Apple could see significant advantage selling Macs in 2005, driven by the success of its iPod product.

Speaking to Knight Ridder newspapers UBS analyst Benjamin Reitzes said: "We believe that fiscal year 2005 could mark the year when the iPod story 'hands off' to the Mac story."

IDC analyst Roger Kay told Knight Ridder he expects Apple to announce more iPod-related products next year, observing that iPod success should offer the company a real advantage in the consumer market.

However, the report characterises the effect of iPod sales on Mac sales so far as "minimal", citing some (unnamed) analysts it claims are concerned that Apple's stock has climbed too high too fast, the report claims.

Citing anecdotal reports from shoppers spoken to in Seattle, the report repeats Apple's tenth-place position as a PC maker, and its 1.9 per cent market share.

It also points to periods in Apple's past, in which it has lost an early market lead - the introduction and subsequent abandonment of its Newton handheld, for example .

The iPod has undoubtedly raised Apple's profile, giving the company dominance of the music player and digital music sales markets.

The report also observes that this could mark a trend in the PC industry, as manufacturers move to diversify their product lines in the face of changing times.

"The PC is important, but no longer the center of the universe," a Gartner analyst said.
However, the iPod has given Apple a sizable presence in the consumer market, according to IDC's Kay, who said: "Consumers represent the wild card for Apple."