Dell selling Apple's iPods

update Putting differences aside, Dell begins selling its archrival's iPod digital music player by phone, with online sales to follow.

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update In a case of strange bedfellows, Dell Computer has started selling Apple Computer's iPod portable music player, CNET News.com has learned.

Dell is carrying just the Windows versions of the iPod, with some models currently available for order by phone from Dell.

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Web sales of the digital music player are expected to start shortly.

"Yep, Dell is reselling iPods," Apple said in a statement provided to CNET News.com. "We are delighted to offer our 5GB, 10GB and 20GB iPods for Windows through Dell's direct retail channel. iPod has been a big success to date, and we would like to make it even bigger."

Apparently the draw of Dell's online store for Apple and the lure of the iPod for Dell were enough to convince the bitter rivals to set aside their differences. The two companies compete especially hard in the education market, where Dell has moved ahead of the Mac maker to become the largest seller of computer gear to schools.

A Dell representative said that some of its customers had been asking them to carry the iPod. Dell has been selling MP3 players from Archos Technology, Creative Labs and Sonicblue; the direct PC seller does not carry any Dell-branded MP3 players.

"We don't consider Apple a competitor across the full range of products," said Dell spokeswoman Mary Fad. "Maybe it would be odd if we had iMacs on the store (Web site)."

iPod on Target
Separately, Apple on Wednesday confirmed plans to start selling the iPod at all 1,100-plus Target stores beginning this week, in a move aimed at broadening distribution of the digital music player.

As previously reported, Target will be selling the 10GB version of the player, for both Mac and Windows.

"We're thrilled that Target will significantly expand the availability of Apple's award-winning iPod to even more customers," Tim Cook, an Apple executive vice president, said in a statement. Apple plans to place a working iPod on display in every Target store.

Both Dell and Target are selling the iPod at Apple's standard prices. The 5GB model sells for $299, the 10GB version for $399 and the 20GB model for $499.

Analysts say strong sales of the iPod could help Apple beat its financial goals for the current quarter, despite the sluggish economy.

"It could sort of save the December quarter, given the sorry state of home PC sales," Needham analyst Charles Wolf said last week. Adding a retailer like Target is key to reaching more potential buyers, Wolf said.

Wolf estimated that Apple might be able to sell as many as half a million of the devices this quarter, assuming the company can grab about 15 percent of the world market for portable music players and that sales reach the 4 million units that some market researchers are projecting.

In September, Apple said that electronics retailer Best Buy would carry the iPod.