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iPods, even as a mature product, will continue to help spur non-Mac buyers to buy Macs, which have done considerably better than skeptics (present company, included) would expected.

While Apple (AAPL) stores only account for 17% of revenue, they're a high generator of sales per square foot for most any mall (just walk in one any time of day or night on any given day -- and, yes, I know not everybody is buying and more than a few are seeking repairs at the always-crowded Genius Bar!) -- and they have proven to be effective marketing tool for Apple products.

Where does that leave Apple's stock? Some people think it's fully valued at closer to $60; others think $200. Any disappointment by the iPhone, potentially the most volatile piece of the puzzle, won't bode well. Apple's stock, after all, is largely driven by emotion and hype. However, currently it's backed up by large leaps in year-over-year operating income, which will continue until it doesn't. (Duh!)

[If you missed my piece in the weekend Wall Street Journal about the sliding sales trend of iPods, and why that may not matter (even though they account for 30% of total revenue), you can read it here at MarketWatch.]

AAPL 1-yr chart:

Source: Sliding iPod Sales Brings On Apple Angst