Apple's iPod mini is attracting a new congregation of female fans – but still faces a death-match for dominance in the music market, The Times reports.

"Technological innovations have a nasty habit of being superseded by inferior competitors," the report states. The iPod faces "growing competition" from other vendors, and Apple's music store continues to face battle form services that employ Microsoft's Windows Media Audio. "How often can you remember Bill Gates conceding defeat to little Apple?" the Times asks.

Despite this, Apple is a serious contender: "You can sense how much iTunes' success is infuriating Microsoft by a recent comment from the general manager of its Windows digital media division," The Times says. iTunes' increasing dominance would be bad for consumers as it locks them in to Apple's service. "As opposed, presumably, to limiting them to Microsoft products," the report points out.

The report also looks at moves within the mobile-phone industry to set up music buying services. Telcos hope to leverage their sophisticated networks and billing systems to do so, and phones are appearing that also operate as MP3 players.

The Times is also offering an account from a journalist who queued up on the evening the iPod mini's went on sale. It describes the crowd of impatient shoppers as "mainly female", and reports the alarm felt by that queue when the pink iPod mini's sold out. "By the time I was handed my ticket that guaranteed me a mini when I reached the shop's doors, there were just a few blue and lots of silver ones left."

Apple has attracted a sophisticated audience with iPod mini. The female shoppers were able to be both cynical about Apple's marketing, and fashionable enough to be unable to resist buying the product.

"This is the kind of thought process that women go through when they wear beautiful diamanté high heels on long walks. It induces the same fevered reaction in their menfolk," The Times says.