Needham & Co. analyst Charles Wolf believes the Mac mini will stimulate Apple's market share.

He told CNet that he estimates 11 per cent of iPod-toting Windows users may buy a Mac, because Apple's sub-£400 Mac mini is affordable. He estimates just 4 per cent of iPod users would buy a Mac before the mini was announced.

"The iPods only failure has been its inability to stimulate meaningful purchases of Macintoshes," Wolf said.

The CNet report also carries several anecdotes from computer users who may now be tempted to be a Mac.

It concludes with a statement from Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg, who said: "There's been a lot of interest in the Mac for many years now," Gartenberg said, but most people "just didn’t want to pay for it."

Big Mac mini sales predicted

At present, Macworld UK's reader poll shows that 65 per cent of 1,795 voters consider that both the Mac mini and iPod shuffle will sell well, with 17 per cent more declaring the Mac mini will be the star.

Discussing the potential success of the products in Macworld's reader forum, one PC user declared:

"I have admired the Mac from afar particularly since OS X (which is based on FreeBSD of which I approve of as I also use Linux on my PC). The price of the Mac has always been what has put me off mainly because of the investment I had already made in my PC equipment."

The Mac mini changes things, he said: "What a brilliant product for the many people like me who would love to have a Mac but simply haven't been able to justify it up until now. I will be buying a Mac Mini without question."