iMac momentum stalls after fast start

Apple is already having to think up new incentives to get shoppers paying for the iMac.

Apple's iMac bolted out of the starting gate with record-setting sales that quickly made it a must-have on the designer desktop. But a new study shows numbers are tapering off as Mac loyalists get their fill of the new machine.

The figures show that although Apple shipped 278,000 iMacs during the product's first six weeks, only about 76,000 of those actually landed in the hands of customers, according to ZD Market Intelligent analyst Aaron Goldberg. September sales were half those in August, and they slipped further in October, said Goldberg, who compiled the data by interviewing resellers.

In a bid to rekindle customer interest Apple US has just launched a finance scheme in which buyers can pay $30 monthly, purchasing a $1,299 for just short of $2,000. It is "not applicable in the uk," according to a spokeswoman, "we're not doing anything here yet."

Some Apple watchers said the ZD Market numbers aren't surprising, especially considering the hype that drove true believers to the stores in droves the day the iMac went on sale. Many retailers sold out.

"The iMac is a product that trades on emotion," Dataquest analyst Scott Miller said. "It's like those people who ran out and bought the first Beetles. At some point you run through those buyers and you have to get that next generation of user."