Having invested a lot on marketing and extending its channels over the last few years, and with the benefit of the iPod halo effect, Apple feels that it is now in a position to address the broader market, according to the company's chief financial officer.

The timing of the launch of the Mac mini and the iPod shuffle is spot-on, explained CFO Peter Oppenheimer speaking to analysts at the Morgan Stanley Semiconductor and System Conference. The launch comes at a time when Windows users are thinking about moving to the Mac, he said, referring to the iPod halo effect.

"We've been putting the first Apple product [iPod] in the hands of millions of Windows customers around the world and when they've had a good experience with an iPod many have asked what else does Apple offer and we think this is helping us in the Mac business."

Virus injection

Another selling point is the viruses that have plagued Windows. "You read a lot about virus security issues on the Windows platform and we think there is frustration there. So we think that timing is really great for the Mac mini as it addresses these issues," he said.

According to Oppenheimer the company is already seeing a lot of interest in the Mac mini from Windows users. "We’re seeing Windows users coming in to our stores and channel partners around the world, looking at the Mac mini and buying it as a first Mac," he said, adding: "and I think we're seeing an new install base add the second or third or the next Mac into their home or business".

With the Apple retail stores in place it seems the company is finding it easier to get its products to the Windows market. Oppenheimer revealed that Apple is selling "about 40 – 45 per cent of the computer in our stores to people that have never owned a Mac before".

Polished halo

It is the halo affect that is bringing these customers into the stores. Oppenheimer indicated: "Ron Jonson would attribute a fare amount of the traffic that he's getting to people who've had a great experience on an iPod and wanted to come in and look at a Mac."

The halo effect of the iPod isn't only helping the company sell Macs to Windows users. It has also aided the company in getting its products into the education market.

"Last year we grew our higher-education business 40 per cent year on year and we think that the iPod definitely played a role in that. If students in high-school or college had a good experience with an iPod we think they wanted to take an iBook or a PowerBook off to school with them."

Even more interesting is that the company thinks it is experiencing the halo effect in the enterprise market, with the interest in the iPod opening up opportunities for Apple to speak with companies that wouldn't traditionally turn to the Mac.

"In terms of the enterprise we're selling a lot of iPods to enterprise customers that are using the iPod for internal awards or for promotion externally," he explained, "City bank has recently run a retail promotion featuring the iPod and they reported that it was their best ever promotion. So that is certainly opening up doors for us to have conversations. We also have employee purchase programmes with many organisations in the Fortune 500, which is another way for us to start conversations."