"Build it up with silver and gold,
Silver and gold, silver and gold,
Build it up with silver and gold,
My fair lady".
London Bridge is falling down, (trad, 11th Century).

Apple UK can predict a rush of orders for silver iPod minis when the product ships on July 24, according to a recent Macworld Online Reader Poll.

Over a thousand (1,325) readers voted when we asked: "Which iPod mini colour would you choose?", and silver stole a stunning 46 per cent (535 people) of that free vote. Amazon in the US reveals the silver iPod mini to be its fourth biggest-selling electronic gadget there - that colour leads the pack.

Readers said the colour "maintains the PowerBook look". One reader asked Apple: "I wonder why Apple didn't offer a white one as well". Apple's current crop of third-generation iPod Classics are white.

Apple's other metallic, the Gold iPod mini failed to match up to the popularity of silver, reflecting a shift in the UK's sense of style away from traditional metals toward platinum, silver and white gold.

Gold attracted just 6 per cent of reader votes. Apple's Gold iPod mini is also the least-liked colour in the US, according to Amazon US.

Green took just 13 per cent of the vote with 155 likely to buy an iPod mini in that colour, though it's the fourth biggest-selling mini in the US.

Recent scare stories about street criminals targeting iPod-equipped travellers may lead some customers to steer away from metallics, as in the words of the thousand-year old nursery rhyme quoted above:

"Silver and gold be stolen away,
Stolen away, stolen away,
Silver and gold be stolen away,
My fair lady".

Second most popular in Apple's iPod mini five-pack offering of musical delight is blue, which took 26 per cent of votes cast, 308 votes in all. An Old Wives Tale exists that claims the colour blue protects boys from the evil eye. Blue is the third most-popular colour on Amazon US.

Commenting in Macworld's Forums, one reader wrote: "I would choose blue or silver. I wouldn't buy gold or pink. My brother's theory is 'Buy a pink one as less people will have them, and it is less likely to be stolen.'"

The colour pinkle

Though its the second biggest-selling coloured iPod mini in the US on Amazon, Pink took just 107 Macworld Online votes, that's 9 per cent of all those cast.

Anecdotally in the UK at least pink seems to attract some stigma, but the Historic Boys' Clothing website sheds interesting light on public perception of colour.

Researchers Dennis and Chris Weidner discovered that as soon ago as the early twentieth century, pink was seen more as a boy's colour because it was a watered down red, a fierce colour. Blue was "more for girls" they wrote.

They found that in 1918 the Ladies Home Journal told mothers: "The generally accepted rule is pink for the boy and blue for the girl. The reason is that pink being a more decided and stronger colour is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl."

Needle in a haystack

Discussions about colour may all come to nothing. Though only available in the US until now, demand for all iPod mini colours has been fierce and has often exceeded available supply.

A voter warned: "If the release of iPod mini is anything like it has been here in the US you'll all have to take whatever you can get. There's a chronic shortage here in New York City, and the Apple Store sells out within hours of receiving a delivery.

"They can never tell you when the next shipment will arrive, and will not take advance orders. I've been trying to get hold of a silver one for weeks without success. It's all very unsatisfactory.

Speaking yesterday, Apple confirmed this anecdotal experience, revealing that in the US resellers and its own retail outlets often sold out of the product within hours or at most days of new stock coming through.

The experience seems set to repeat itself internationally, executives called the amount of pre-orders being taken for the iPod mini "unprecedented", somewhat dryly adding "demand for the mini is extremely strong".

Some voters just want Apple to put more colours on the market, one reader cried: "Oh God, if only for a purple one for my girlfriend". (At time of writing strong chatter online indicates Apple may be about to introduce that colour).

Another reader ranted retro: "I have always been an admirer of the Flower Power or Blue Dalmatian styles; it seems I'm the only one as well. Those colours were great."

While iPod mini shoppers must grapple with their own sense of personal style, Apple itself must be exultant. Apple sold in excess of 800,000 iPods in its third quarter, and company officials have previously admitted that over half of these sales have been of iPods for Windows, meaning many in Microsoft's world now hum to Apple's tune.

"An apple a day keeps the doctor away,
Apple in the morning - Doctor's warning,
Roast apple at night - starves the doctor outright,
Eat an apple going to bed - knock the doctor on the head,
Three each day, seven days a week - ruddy apple, ruddy cheek."

Now vote in Macworld's new poll on possible iPod maxi colours: If the next-gen iPod is to be available in colours, which would you prefer? See poll, left. You can make a difference.