Holidays Boost Kindle Fire, But iPad Still King
The iPad still dominates the tablet market, but Amazon's Kindle Fire is holding on to the gains it made over the holiday season, according to new stats from mobile ad network Chitika Insights.
The tablet market grew 75 percent during the fourth quarter, compared to the same time period in 2011, highlighting the trend of mobile and tablet devices driving personal computing. NPD DisplaySearch reached a similar conclusion last month, estimating that global tablet shipments will hit 240 million units this year — a 64 percent year-over-year increase.
Tablet competition, however, still remains fairly one-sided. Based on data collected by Chitika between Jan. 19 and 25, the mobile ad firm pointed to an unsurprising lead by the iPad , which had 81 percent of the tablet market last month, leaving a giant gap between Apple and it's Android-based contenders.
The Amazon Kindle Fire, however, landed almost 8 percent of the market — a 3 percent boost from its late-December standing. Google Nexus , Samsung Galaxy, and B&N Nook tablets also saw smaller gains last month, with all three now contributing a combined 6.7 percent of U.S. tablet Web traffic, Chitika said.
NPD: Windows Notebook Sales Drop in Holiday Season
The latest figures from NPD indicate that shoppers front-loaded their purchases during the first two weeks of last year's holiday shopping season (starting November 18), coughing up around 46% of all total consumer electronics purchases during this time.
While the elevated shopping rates during this time period continues a three-year trend, it also means that shopping during the last three weeks of the holiday season fell to their lowest levels observed since 2009.
"For the third consecutive year sales trends worsened in the later part of the holiday season," said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD, in a statement. "The hyped-up promotion of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and now Thanksgiving Day has proven remarkably effective in moving sales into the early part of the holiday season. Trends like online shopping and self-gifting have intensified the focus on the more event -driven early part of the holiday season."
In total, sales of Windows notebooks dropped 11 percent from 2011's holiday season, with their average selling price rising just $2 to $420.
Or, as NPD's press release puts it, "Despite the hype, and hope, around the launch of Windows 8, the new operating system did little to boost holiday sales or improve the year-long Windows notebook sales decline."
Barnes & Noble Nook Shunned by Holiday Shoppers
While the Apple iPad and Amazon Kindle Fire filled many a stocking this holiday season, it appears the Barnes & Noble Nook was largely left out in the cold.
According to data released today by Barnes & Noble, sales of Nook products took a tumble during the nine-week period ending Dec. 29.
The company's retail arm, which includes the brick-and-mortar stores and BN.com businesses, dropped 10.9 percent over the same time period in 2011. Barnes & Noble blamed the slump on an 8 percent decline in comparable store sales and closures, as well as lower online sales. The Nook segment, meanwhile, "fell short of the company's expectations," Barnes & Noble said, dropping 12.6 percent. While sales of digital content - like apps, e-books, and magazines - were up 13.1 percent, Nook device sales "declined during the holiday period as compared to the prior year," the company said, without elaborating.
"We entered the holiday with two great new products, Nook HD and Nook HD+, both highly rated media tablets of phenomenal quality," B&N CEO William Lynch said in a statement. "Nook device sales got off to a good start over the Black Friday period, but then fell short of expectations for the balance of holiday. We are examining the root cause of the December shortfall in sales, and will adjust our strategies accordingly going forward."
Huge Christmas for iTunes, App Store
It was a very appy Christmas for Apple, which saw an 87 percent rise in Christmas Day app downloads.
The season's giving spirit meant loads of new iOS devices, which obviously needed to be stocked with applications and games.
New owners didn't wait long before heading to Apple's App Store on Dec. 25, boosting the daily download figures by 87 percent compared to the daily average for December, according to app analytics tracker Distimo. Based on data collected from more than 40 countries, Cupertino also saw a 70 percent revenue jump on Christmas.
All download volumes measured by Distimo counted both free and paid apps, while revenue was calculated from one-off and in-app purchases.
"Given that the iPad downloads and revenues rose by 140 percent and 83 percent respectively, the iPad seems to have been a very popular gift," Distimo's Gert Jan Spriensma wrote in a blog entry.
Only two of the top 10 most successful iOS applications downloaded on Christmas Day were even holiday-related, according to the site's figures. YouTube took the No. 1 spot, followed by iOS newcomer Google Maps.
Apple iOS Users Can Now Gift Apps
Still have someone on your holiday shopping list with a blank space next to their name? Here's an idea: If you have an iOS device and they have an iOS device, you can now buy them an app.
Just in time for the holidays, Apple has restored its App Store gifting feature, which allows iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users to send a paid app to someone as a gift. This feature was previously available with iOS 5 and below, but inexplicably disappeared with the launch of iOS 6, according to 9to5Mac.
No matter what your giftee is into, there's sure to be an app that fits their interests. For example, game lovers might enjoy a copy of Ubisoft's Rayman Jungle Run, which Apple recently named iPhone game of the year. Those with an iPad might like Fireproof Studios' puzzler The Room, which nabbed iPad game of the year.
To gift someone an app, simply choose the paid app you want to put a bow on, then click the Share button in the upper right corner. From there, you'll see an icon called Gift. Click that and you'll be prompted to enter your Apple ID password, confirm your payment type, and enter your recipient's email address.
Black Friday Gadget Sales Decline ‘Steeper Than Anticipated’
U.S. retail sales of consumer electronics on Black Friday dropped 5.6 percent this year, a "steeper than anticipated decline" that could signal trouble for the rest of the holiday season, according to market research firm The NPD Group.
The drop followed last year's loss of nearly 4 percent, the firm said. Black Friday tech shoppers this year went for PCs, Android tablets, and TVs, which together accounted for 58 percent of all sales dollars, up from 51 percent in 2009.
"This slow start is merely a continuation of the challenges seen in the consumer electronics business throughout 2012," Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD, said in a statement. "In an unbalanced market, where just a few categories deliver significant dollars, and even fewer offer any growth, the ability to deliver positive results will remain difficult for companies exposed to the entire consumer electronics marketplace."
Unit volume sales of flat panel TVs grew 4 percent overall, though revenue dropped 6 percent as a result of the average selling price (ASP) falling from $367 last year to $333 this year. Forty percent of all flat-panel volume came from 32-inch TVs, but with an all-time low ASP of just $194, these sales "dragged overall revenue down," NPD said.
On a brighter note, flat panels 50 inches and above saw a unit volume increase of 65 percent. The "star of the segment," however, was 60-inch and above flat-panel TVs, whose sales increased 10 times over 2010, accounting for 6 percent of all TV unit volume compared to less than 1 percent two years ago.
It was also good news for Android tablets, which saw a 177 percent increase in unit volume, and a 91 percent increase in revenue, even though ASP dropped to $151 from $219 last year.
Meanwhile, notebook units fell 10 percent, with sales of Apple notebooks flat and Windows notebooks down 10 percent. Windows 8 devices, with an ASP of $368, represented 89 percent of notebook sales.
Shoppers More Interested in iPad Than Surface on Black Friday
It appears that Black Friday shoppers were more eager to pick up an Apple gadget than Microsoft product, according to stats released today by Piper Jaffray.
Analysts from the firm staked out the Microsoft Store and Apple Store in the Mall of America in Minneapolis, which are located directly across from each other. Piper Jaffray found that hourly traffic to the Microsoft Store was 47 percent less than traffic to the Apple Store during a two-hour period.
"On average, 3.5 items were purchased per hour at the Microsoft store (all but 2 purchases were XBox games) compared to 17.2 items at the Apple store," analyst Gene Munster wrote in a note to investors. "Also notable, was that there were no Microsoft Surfaces sold during those two hours."
Apple and Microsoft both offered Black Friday deals. Apple took $101 off select Macs and $40-$60 off the fourth-gen iPad and iPad 2 depending on storage capacity, but not the iPad mini. Microsoft offered a Surface bundle deal, as well as savings on several Xbox bundles and Windows-based machines. All the deals were also available online throughout the day, with Microsoft extending some of the savings through today.
Grab Cheap iPod, PC With Amazon Black Friday Lightning Deals
Amazon kicked off its Black Friday lightning deals earlier this week, but the savings will continue throughout the day on items like iPods, laptops, hard drives, and more.
Lightning deals are sales that offer big discounts during a limited window of time - and often in restricted numbers - so be prepared to act fast. Amazon doesn't reveal the Lightning price until the item goes on sale, but you can often save up to 50 percent or more.
Some of the electronics going on sale in the next 12 hours include Apple products like the iPod touch and iPod nano. Starting at 1:30 p.m. Pacific, Amazon will cut the price on a new 32GB iPod touch. It normally sells on Amazon for $289; Apple is offering it for $268 today as part of its own Black Friday deals - can Amazon best Cupertino on price? Check back later. Amazon will also offer a 16GB fourth-generation iPod touch starting at 12:30 p.m. Pacific and a 16GB iPod nano starting at 11:30 p.m. Pacific.
A Philips 30-Pin iPod/iPhone speaker dock will go on sale at 1:30 p.m.
Looking for a PC? A Dell XPS 8500 desktop, which normally sells for about $900, will be added to the Amazon Lightning deals at 7:40 p.m. Pacific. The HP Pavilion P6-2390, normally $422, will go on sale at 2:30 p.m. Pacific, while the HP Pavilion P7-1490 ($500) will be added to the Amazon Lightning deals at 10:40 p.m.
Apple Black Friday Deals Include iPad, iPod, MacBook Discounts
Apple this morning unveiled its Black Friday discounts, with price cuts on iPads, iPods, Macs, and more.
On the iPad front, the latest fourth-generation iPad with Retina display received a $41-$61 price cut depending on storage size. The 16GB Wi-Fi version of the 9.7-inch tablet, for example, is $458, or $41 cheaper than normal. The 16GB Wi-Fi plus cellular option, meanwhile, is $558 today rather than $629. If you need a little more storage, the 32GB is $548 or $678, while the 64GB version is $638 and $768.
The older iPad 2 is also cheaper today. Apple only offers a 16GB iPad 2 at this point, but it is $31 off, with the Wi-Fi version selling for $368 and the Wi-Fi plus cellular on sale for $498.
The iPad 2 and fourth-gen iPad are both available to ship in 1-3 business days, according to Apple's website. The latest iPad mini is not getting a Black Friday discount.
If you're in the market for an iPod, the new iPod touch - the one that resembles the iPhone 5 - is available for $268 (32GB) or $358 (64GB), a savings of $31 and $41, respectively. The older, fourth-generation iPod touch is getting a $21 price cut to $178 (16GB) and $228 (32GB). A 16GB iPod nano, meanwhile, is $11 cheaper today at $138.
Surprise! Your Kids Wants Apple Gadgets
Apple fanboys aren't the only ones hoping for an iDevice in their stocking this year. According to new stats from Nielsen, kids ages 6-12 are also drooling at the prospect of unwrapping an iPad, iPod touch, or iPhone.
The numbers are similar to what Nielsen found during the 2011 holiday season, when 44 perent of 3,000 kids wanted an iPad, 30 percent wanted an iPod touch, and 27 percent requested an iPhone.
Apple isn't the only company to capture kids' interest. About 39 percent of children want the new Nintendo Wii U console. Twenty-nine percent wanted something a bit more portable, or the Nintendo 3DS/3DS XL, and 28 percent are hoping for the non-3D DS handheld.
About 26 percent want a Sony PlayStation 3 and 25 percent are eyeing an Xbox 360. Twenty percent mentioned the older Wii.
About 31 percent also want a computer and 29 percent expressed interest in a non-iPad tablet. For those eschewing the iPad, Amazon's Kindle Fire and Samsung Galaxy offerings were the most popular options; only 6 percent pointed to the Microsoft Surface. About 20 percent are looking at a non-iPhone smartphone.
Among those 13 and up, meanwhile, the iPad is also the most popular choice at 21 percent. Rounding out the top five are a computer (19 percent), a non-iPad tablet (18 percent), the Nintendo Wii U (17 percent), and the iPhone (14 percent).
"With discretionary dollars and heavy competition across gift categories, these study results suggest that consumer electronics and gaming devices should be an exciting sector to watch this holiday shopping season," Nielsen concluded.