Apple's iPod Nano a holiday hit

Best Buy's Web site was sold out Friday of both the white and black versions of the 4 GB Nano, priced at $249.99.

Apple Computer's sleek iPod Nano music player was among the top-selling electronic items on Amazon.com Friday and some models sold out on a top retailer's Web site as consumers stocked up on holiday gifts on one of the year's busiest shopping days.

The stock of Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple was the fifth-best performer on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index on Friday, climbing 3.3 percent to close at $69.34 and helping the index hit a 4-1/2-year closing high.

Apple's black iPod Nano with 2 gigabytes of storage, or enough to hold 500 songs, was the sixth best-selling electronic gadget on Amazon.com's list of most popular items, which is updated hourly. A white version was No. 10 on the list. Amazon was selling the Nanos for $199.88.

Retailer Best Buy's Web site was sold out of both the white and black versions of the 4-gigabyte Nano priced at $249.99. A spokeswoman for the retailers said Best Buy limited the number of connections to its site due to heavy volume related to the launch of Microsoft Corp's Xbox 360 video game console this week.

Best Buy was the retail launch partner for the new Xbox.

The day after Thanksgiving is traditionally one of the biggest shopping days as retailers offer deep discounts to bolster holiday sales.

Best Buy shares rose 3.3 percent, and stock of rival Circuit City Stores gained 2.4 percent.

An Apple spokeswoman was not available for comment.

U.S. online holiday sales are expected to hit $20 billion this year and should take off on Monday, when consumers return to work and use fast Internet connections to buy gifts, according to comScore Networks.

Apple has sold more than 28 million iPods since they were introduced in 2001, helping revive fortunes of a company that was increasingly dwarfed by Microsoft Corp.'s dominant Windows desktop operating system. Apple has about 75 percent of the worldwide market for digital music players, according to market research firm NPD Group.

Apple introduced its credit card-sized Nano in September to replace the iPod mini, then the best-selling iPod version. Tim Cook, Apple's worldwide head of sales and marketing, last month said demand for the Nano was "staggering."

Apple shares have traded at a premium to other computer makers due to the iPod's success.

Story Copyright © 2005 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

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