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Shrunken iPod nearly here

Apple has announced a global release date for its new slim line iPod device.

Apple has announced a global release date of July 24 for its new slim line iPod mini audio player. The firm this week confirmed that the device will begin shipping on that date, meaning it should be available to buy in the Middle East by the beginning of September.

The iPod mini was launched in the US back in February where, according to Apple, it has been a huge success. The new slimmer, lighter iPod is built around a smaller hard drive than its big brother, its 4GB capacity allowing users to store up to 1,000 songs.

"The iPod mini has been a smash hit in the US, and we’re thrilled to finally be able to offer it to music lovers the world over," said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. "iPod has changed the way people listen to music and is now the number one digital music player in the world."

Apple originally planned to launch the iPod Mini earlier this year, but its release was delayed while the company waited for Hitachi to get up to speed manufacturing miniature hard disc drives for the device. At the time of writing, Middle East pricing for the iPod Mini has not been finalised. In the US the product currently sells for around $250.

The iPod and new iPod Mini are designed to work with Apple’s proprietary iTunes software, which is available for both PC and Mac platforms. iTunes will be available on Windows Middle East’s September cover CD, alongside competitor programs from Microsoft (Media Player 10 technical beta) and Real Networks (RealPlayer 10 Basic).

The iPod Mini will enter a crowded audio player market and face stiff competition from the likes of iRiver and Creative. Sony recently announced that it too is looking to grab a share of this market by launching a new MP3 Walkman device to rival Apple’s iPod.

A spokesperson at Apple Middle East told ITP.net that the company is looking to increasing its sales activities in the region, initially by expanding its retail channel. In the UAE for instance, the firm has negotiated deals with consumer electronics chains such as Plug-ins and Jumbo to set-up mini Apple stores.

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