Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL) will delay global sales of its new iPod mini (search) digital music player until July due to stronger-than-expected demand in the United States, Apple said Thursday.

Apple began shipping the smaller version of its iPod music player in February.

Demand in the United States has outstripped expected supply through the end of June, the company said. Tight supplies of the hard drive at the core of the player forced Apple to delay increasing manufacturing until July, it said.

"We're actually consuming just about all the 4 gigabyte, 1- inch drives they make. As they make more, we'll get more," said Greg Joswiak, vice president of hardware product marketing for Apple.

Hitachi Ltd. (search), which manufactures nearly all of the cutting-edge one-inch drives that are made, expects to boost production to meet customer demand, Hitachi Storage Technologies Chief Executive Jun Naruse told Reuters earlier Thursday.

In February, Apple said it planned to ship the smaller $249 iPod worldwide in April. It said then it had 100,000 preorders for the gadget. The mini iPod is about the length and width of a business card, weighs about 3.6 ounces and holds 1,000 songs.

Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple's shares were up 71 cents, or 3 percent, at $26.21 in Nasdaq trading.