iMac debuts in Japan Aug. 29

Apple's Japanese subsidiary will begin selling the hot new computer for about $1,227.

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Consumers in Japan, one of Apple Computer's strongholds outside of the U.S. market, will soon be able to get their hands on the much-hyped iMac.

Apple Japan will begin selling the iMac personal computer to individual clients on August 29.

The iMac will be priced at 178,000 yen, or about $1,227, the company announced in a statement.

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Apple's gambit The new iMac went on sale in the United States on August 15. Shares of Apple jumped to a three-year high this week after the successful launch.

Supply in Japan will likely be quite constrained initially--even more so than in the U.S.--because systems are reportedly being shipped to Japan after stateside demand has been fulfilled.

One strategy to deal with the limited supply appears to be to also limit the number of dealers offering the iMac, according to the online edition of Nikkei Business Publications. Apple Japan announced a relationship with Shimamura Music, a large chain of musical instrument sales outlets, to sell iMacs. Traditional distributors such as Canon Sales of Japan may be allocated fewer iMacs than retailers such as Shimamura, which has located most of its stores in family-style shopping malls.

The move is a bid to expand Mac sales into areas where it can attract new customers rather than simply compete against other PC vendors, the report stated.

With its two-toned casing and built-in monitor, the iMac is being touted as the next "insanely great" thing so characteristic of Steve Jobs's Apple of old. Between the hype and its price of $1,299, the iMac, sans floppy drive, is expected to be one of the company's most popular computers in years.

The box comes with a 233-MHz 750 PowerPC processor, a 4GB hard disk drive, 32MB of memory, built-in networking, an internal modem, and a CD-ROM drive. It also features 512K of high-speed "secondary cache" memory, which boosts performance.

But in spite of the teal accents and cutting-edge design, industry analysts say the iMac will likely be a tough sell beyond the aficionados in any large numbers. They note that Apple still faces the traditional concerns of fending off the gigantic Microsoft-Intel juggernaut and its cadre of fiercely competitive computer makers offering feature-rich but low-cost computers.

Reuters contributed to this report.