A leading US journalist has apologised personally to Apple CEO Steve Jobs over his prediction that the iPod mini would flop.

In a letter directed to Jobs, currently convalescing following cancer surgery, BusinessWeek columnist Salkever admits: "I thought a smaller, not-much-cheaper iPod would be a bust. I sure was wrong."

The apology follows an exchange between the two men back in January. Salkever had written a column in which he suggested that the mini was too pricey and destined to flop in the same manner as the Cube. After reading the column Jobs wrote to Salkever asking that, should his prediction prove incorrect, he would publish an apology.

"So here's my apology, Steve. The mini is no Cube. I was wrong, and you were right," wrote Salkever.

What is the appeal of the iPod mini? According to the emails Salkever received from mini fans, the smaller footprint and the lighter weight are particularly significant.

"One jogger and iPod owner said he would love to lose the extra weight on his arm or waistband and that the business-card-size mini was far less noticeable than the regular iPod, which is the size of a deck of cards," he writes.

But despite being won over by the iPod mini, Salkever is not convinced it is a "mass-market phenomenon". He said: "Apple won't disclose the number of units shipped. A significant percentage of mini sales are going to Apple's retail and online stores, neither of which provides tracking data to tech analysts."

He also still believes that the mini is overpriced. "Do I still think the price needs to come down? Absolutely. The Sony Walkman didn't truly take off until it dropped below $200, and video-game consoles often sell poorly or slowly until they fall below that threshold. Heck, if you drop the price to below $200, I'd buy a mini myself."