A limited number of Apple's entry-level mini desktop computer will go on sale in Johannesburg and Cape Town this weekend, says distributor Apple IMC Southern Africa. Announced over a month ago at MacWorld in San Francisco by Apple CEO Steve Jobs, the "headless" Mac minis have created a stir among Apple fans as they are the first desktop computers sold by the company that do not include a keyboard and monitor.

"Demand for this incredible new product has been overwhelming in the US, but we have managed to secure an advance allocation for SA," says Rutger-Jan van Spaandonk, Apple IMC Southern Africa (formerly the Core Group) executive director.

"Although the Mac mini will be available in large quantities and in many stores throughout the country later in March, we wanted to do something special for our ardent Apple fans and the new converts that have switched to Apple because of the iPod," he says.

Cool Apple Buddy in Sandton and Project 3 and Digicape in Cape Town will open their doors early tomorrow to start selling the first Mac minis in the country. They are priced at R4,559 for the entry-level model.

As part of Apple's worldwide marketing strategy, the Apple Centres will be the first to receive shipments of the Mac minis and the new iPod Shuffle flash memory music players.

Digicape director Gaynor McArthur says her company has received about 21 Mac minis and 15 iPod Shuffles that will go on sale tomorrow.

"The first three people to purchase a Mac mini will receive monitors, keyboards and a mouse for free, and the following seven will receive keyboards and a mouse for free. Then we are placing almost every other item on sale and these will be limited to one item per customer," she says.

Van Spaandonk expects people to sleep outside the stores to ensure they get their hands on a Mac mini. "We will make sure refreshments and entertainment are on standby for these early birds," he says.