The surge in traffic to both sites was driven by gift recipients wanting to download the iTunes and Zune software, suggested LeeAnn Prescott, research director at Hitwise, which looks at online trends by analyzing share of traffic. Zune hit stores in early November, while the iPod has been around since 2000.
"It was a bit of a surprise to me," she said of iPod's dominance. Last year Apple introduced the popular Nano and this year launched it in a number of different colors and also came out its smaller Shuffle. "So there were a couple of new products that were compelling enough to drive interest in the iPod and keep Zune from taking hold," she said.
Additionally, she said, studying search-term data for both products reveals many consumers searching for the term "Zune" were doing so to find consumer reviews or to find information about how it compares to the iPod. Only three of the top 10 landing sites for "Zune" searches were retailers, vs. nine of the top 10 landing sites for the search term "iPod."
Incidentally, however, it was Nintendo's portable DS system that proved to be the most popular search term leading up to Christmas, sending traffic to shopping and classified sites for the week ending Dec. 23. That was followed by "iPod" and. In third place: "Nintendo Wii" and "Wii." Ms. Prescott suggests that availability issues helped the Wii rise through the rankings; as people had trouble finding the item in stock, they conducted multiple searches, she said.
Cyber Monday growing
Hitwise reported that the average daily holiday 2006 increase in visits to sites included in its retail index was 5.9%. The day with the biggest increase over last year was Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving). Traffic was up 13% on that day.