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iTunes visits skyrocket on Christmas Day

Traffic to Apple Computer's iTunes website on Christmas Day was up 413 percent when compared to last Christmas as new iPod owners flocked to the web to download iTunes, according to data released Wednesday by Hitwise.

The data also showed a 110 percent increase in visits to the company's online store. Overall, the Apple Store ranked fourth on the firm's list of most visited retail websites on Christmas Day.

Meanwhile, visits to Zune.net —the site for downloading music software for Microsoft's digital media player —showed an increase of 1,030 percent on December 25, 2006 versus the previous Monday (December 18, 2006).

Still, the iTunes rival's initial performance was overshadowed by the popularity of Apple's iPod, as the market share of visits to the iTunes website increased by 1,222 percent in the same period, and outnumbered visits to Zune.net by 30 to 1.

"For the third holiday season in a row, the iPod has been the must-have Christmas gift," said Bill Tancer, general manager of global research at Hitwise. "Competitive offerings have not yet succeeded in capturing the attention of music listeners, and the surge in visits to the Apple Store shows that iPod owners are also engaged in filling and accessorizing their new devices."

Nintendo DS was reported to be top product search term sending visits to shopping and classifieds websites last week. The product term ‘ipod’ moved back into the second spot followed by 'nintendo wii' and 'wii.'

It should be noted that Hitwise in its website rankings tracks visitor traffic to Apple's iTunes website at www.apple.com/itunes and not to the company's actual iTunes Store.