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Thursday, November 02, 2006, 03:00 pm PT (06:00 pm ET)

Santa Steve hands out free iPod shuffles to employees

Christmas came a tad bit early for employees of Apple Computer this year, each of which will receive a shiny second-generation iPod shuffle digital music player with the company's compliments.

The "morale booster," as some call it, extends from corporate all the way down to the company's retail division, several employees told AppleInsider.

In January of 2005, the Cupertino, Calif.-based iPod maker commissioned a similar move when it offered staff members a complimentary version of the first-generation iPod shuffle a couple of weeks after the player was unveiled at Macworld Expo.

The $79 second-generation iPod shuffle was first unveiled by Apple during a September 12th media event. It comes with a built-in clip and 1GB of storage, good for storing approximately 240 songs.

Apple has scheduled a worldwide retail launch of the new players for tomorrow, friday November 3rd.

In an email sent out this week, Apple chief executive Steve Jobs reportedly told employees to expect their new iPods by the end of the month.