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Mac Mini offer quickly dropped

Less than 12 hours after the promotion was launched, Apple pulls 30-day trial offer for the Mac Mini. Speculation as to why abounds.

Apple has dropped a 30-day trial offer for its Mac Mini after less than 12 hours.

The promotion--"Mac Mini Test Drive"--offered a 30-day money-back guarantee, and was available only through Apple's online store. It was launched on Wednesday in the U.S., but by Thursday morning U.K. time Apple's site no longer showed the promotion.

An Apple representative refused to talk about why, after only one day, the company pulled the plug on a promotion that was supposed to last for two months.

Apple's site had stated that: "We're so confident you'll love your new Mac Mini, we'll let you test-drive it for 30 days with no risk. If you decide you don't want it, we'll take it back."

The rapid retraction of the offer prompted plenty of speculation online among bloggers and those in the Mac community.

"This couldn't have been a promo which was initiated lightly. It had to have been approved by Steve himself. But was it too successful? Did more people try it than imagined? After all, any machines returned would have to be resold refurbished through (other) channels," one Apple fan speculated.

Some bloggers also suggested that Apple could have sold out of Mac minis quicker than anticipated.

The promotion may have been launched because Apple is not happy with the pace of Mac mini sales, according to technology analyst Roger Kay.

"I think the issue now is that growth may have stalled, and a campaign like this may be designed to reinvigorate it," Kay told ZDNet UK sister site CNET News.com.

Apple introduced the mini in January 2005. The product, which does not come with a keyboard, mouse or monitor, was hailed at the time as a major move into mass-market desktop computers.

Many viewed the introduction of the Mac Mini as a shrewd way to profit from the huge success of the iPod. To some degree, it appears to be working. Apple's global share of the desktop computer market hit 2.1 percent in the second quarter of 2005, nearly double its share a year ago, according to Kay.

CNET News.com's Alorie Gilbert contributed to this report. Tom Espiner of ZDNet UK reported from London.