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Apple aims to get iPod "into the groove"

The Mac maker is selling versions of the iPod on its Web site that have Madonna's lasered autograph engraved on the back of the device.

Apple Computer has a message for Madonna lovers everywhere: Express yourself.

The Macintosh maker has started selling versions of the iPod from its Web site that have the singer's lasered autograph engraved on the back of the device. Apple started allowing customers to add engravings to the back of their devices earlier this year, although this is the first time the company has added a celebrity touch.

An advertisement for the device pops up to visitors at the Web site, saying the device will only be available until Jan. 8. The 5GB version sells for $348, the 10GB version for $448, and the 20GB version for $548--all $49 more than a generic iPod. Apple is offering a similar promotion featuring skateboarder Tony Hawk, who has also appeared in Apple's "switcher" ad campaign.

Other gadget makers have tried to cash in on celebrities to market their gear, most notably a Michigan entrepreneur who sold a Claudia Schiffer edition Palm and later a Michael Jordan Palm. The company, PTN Media, exited its deal with Michael Jordan, however, amid a tough market for handhelds, celebrity endorsed or otherwise.

Apple has also been expanding the distribution of the iPod, recently adding Target stores and Dell Computer as outlets that sell the deck-of-cards-size music player.