Apple is beginning to see the benefit of the so-called 'iPod Halo' factor.

The Washington Times reports that an increasing number of iPod-using Windows users are upgrading to a Mac when their existing machine fails or falls short of capacity.

The report explains: "For now, the halo effect exists primarily as a theory in the minds of executives and some analysts, but evidence is emerging that it is becoming a real phenomenon."

With 5.3 million iPods shipped in the last quarter, Mac sales are also climbing; Mac hardware sales grew 43 per cent year-on-year.

Apple's vice president of worldwide sales and operations Tim Cook truly believes iPod to be inspiring Mac sales: "We certainly think that a number of kids that had a great experience with an iPod opted to take an iBook or a PowerBook off to school with them," he told analysts during a recent conference call.

The introduction of the Mac mini is also likely to encourage computer buyers to choose a Mac as their second or third computer.

Commenting on this, Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg described a situation in which he surmises Apple's philosophy as: "If we can't be your choice for a first computer, maybe we can be your choice for a second."