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Apple's iPod knocks out the competition during the Christmas buying season

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.





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