Apple is anticipating a higher market share this year as a result of its entry into the local value market with products that are more affordable to consumers.

With the 512-megabyte iPod shuffle unit priced at 6,999 pesos (US$128) and the Mac mini (minus the display and peripherals) retailing at 39,188 pesos, analysts are betting that Apple might just be able to tempt customers of rival Microsoft’s Windows to switch operating systems and go with the Mac and the Mac OS X instead.

“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 expressed the same 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 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 10 million iPods.

iPod sales accounted for 35 per cent or US$1.21 billion of Apple’s total revenues of $3.49 billion in its fiscal first quarter that ended on December 25.