Apple expects a higher market share this year as a result of its entry into the local Philippines market with more affordable consumer products.

The company has traditionally targeted the high-end markets, eschewing discount models, but has now decided to reverse its course with its recent unveiling of its latest Flash-based iPod Shuffle portable music player and a slimmer Mac Mini computer.

“The Mac Mini opens up lower price points for people who would like to try the Mac platform, and that’s long been one of my chief complaints about Apple - the high price,” said International Data Corporation (IDC) analyst Roger Kay.

According to Apple Philippines’ country manager Gerard Chua, the company’s regional office is optimistic that the Mac Mini and the iPod Shuffle will be received warmly by Filipino consumers. “We are providing a heavy amount of support for the Philippine office because we are bullish about our operations in the country,” he said. Chua also pointed out that the Philippines continues to be a priority market for Apple in the Southeast Asian region.

Over the past year, the company organized seven press and consumer events locally and sent two key personnel to the country, indicating that it considers the Philippines as a major market.

Confident Apple distributor MSI Digiland Philippines also confidence about the introduction of Apple’s latest products. “The Mac Mini could pose a strong competition to the personal computer,” said MSI Digiland president and chief executive officer Jimmy Go. “We plan to ride on its popularity to influence people to shift to the Apple platform.” About 200 units of the Mac Mini are expected to be made available in the country within the next few months.

Apple Philippines’ Chua meanwhile noted that the popularity of the iPod MP3 player will pave the way for other Mac products to reach a bigger market both in the Philippines and abroad.

“The iPod brings more potential users to the table,” he said. “Some of those who have tried the iPod also want to try the Mac.” iPod is currently Apple’s top product in terms of sales generated for the company. Since its introduction in October 2001, Apple has sold more than ten million iPods.

iPod sales accounted for 35 per cent or $1.21 billion of Apple’s total revenues of $3.49 billion in its fiscal first quarter.