believes Apple's iPod launch is a significant "glimpse into the tactics computer makers are beginning to employ as demand for their core products wanes".

Citing the softening in demand for personal computers, the online newsletter suggests that the launch is a sign of the strategy manufacturers will adopt as they struggle to make their offerings more attractive in order to boost sales in the depressed market.

The magazine suggests that Apple's product is symptomatic of manufacturer's attempts to "identify new markets and create products for them". The magazine adds it's an alternative strategy to simple price-cutting, and Apple's approach to fill these gaps has been consistent - with iDVD, iTunes, iDisk, and now iPod.

NPD analyst Stephen Baker claims the home-entertainment business Apple is aiming for will be the "it" market of the future. It's also a sign of the increasing convergence between various forms of home entertainment, computing and the Internet, he adds.

Baker warns that consumer-electronics products, while attractive as they offer better profit margins, also have longer life spans than PCs. How the digital lifestyle will develop is also open to question, and companies hoping to seize a slice of that market must take the risk of developing products to fill needs that consumers have not identified yet.