Apple's iPod continued its three-year streak as the most
coveted gift for the Christmas buying season and dominated sales charts. Apple also saw a substantial
increase in web traffic to its site due to a shift in strategy employed with
its newest line of iPods.
Apple has been relying heavily on its
flash-based players during the 2006 Christmas buying season. The Nano has
accounted for 51% of total iPod sales while the Shuffle hold strong at 21%. The
5/5.5G iPod accounts for the remainder. iPod music players also accounted for 4
of the top 10 sellers in Amazon.com's electronics section. Amazon.com is the
world's largest online-only retailer.
When Apple introduced its 5.5G iPod, 2G iPod Nano and 2G
iPod Shuffle in September,
the company did away with providing an installation CD for its iTunes software. This
not only allowed Apple to cut down on costs for its popular music players, but
in the case of the Nano and Shuffle allowed for more compact product packaging.
iPod users are now required to go directly to Apple's
website to download iTunes software in order to sync their players and download
iTunes music. As a result, Apple saw a 413%
increase in traffic to its iTunes site and a 110% increase to the Apple Store compared to December 25, 2005. Apple's site took a heavy beating as new iPod owners (and iPod owners packing iTunes gift cards) swamped iTunes.
Microsoft's Zune on the other hand
saw rather lackluster
sales during the same Christmas buying season according to Amazon.com sales
numbers. The Zune managed to score respectable sales numbers in its first week
of availability, but has steadily lost steam in the market. When the Zune first
hit store shelves, it captured 9% of the market
according to NDP group. Just a few weeks later, that share had dropped down to
a mere 2%.
Traffic to Microsoft's Zune.net site also saw
a substantial increase on Christmas day. Traffic for Zune.net increased by
1,030% compared to December 18. Apple still held the advantage as iTunes site
traffic increased by 1,222% during the same time period with total site traffic
outpacing Zune.net 30-to-1.
Despite the Zune’s poor showing during the Christmas rush, Microsoft
contends that its music player is on track to surpass the one million units shipped
mark by June 2007.
In other news, Apple has quietly issued another update for
its 1G iPod Shuffle music player. The iPod Shuffle Reset Utility v1.0.1 has
been issued to fix iPod Shuffle players that aren't able to be recognized by
Windows or Max OS X operating systems and have been unable to playback some
iTunes music files. The v1.0.1 update can be downloaded from Apple's site.