Retail software sales rang in at $278 million for the 2009 holidays, a dip of 1 percent from the prior year, NPD Group reported Wednesday. But the results were far more joyous than in December 2008 when software revenue fell by 13 percent.
Thanks largely to Windows 7, operating systems enjoyed the greatest improvement of any category for the five-week 2009 holiday season, climbing to $29 million from $10 million in 2008. Educational software also proved a popular gift for the November 22 to December 26 period, with sales jumping by 15 percent courtesy of strong titles like Rosetta Stone and Topics Entertainment. Sales of business software were flat versus 2008, but this group still scooped up $77 million, the highest revenue of any retail software category.
"Despite a slight decline in overall sales, boxed software showed pockets of strength as publishers, especially Microsoft, invested money in holiday promotional activity," said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD, in a statement. "Aggressive pricing on Office 2007 and continued strong sales of boxed versions of Windows 7 added a big kick to retail software sales during the holiday. But weak results in the key utilities category, along with ongoing weakness in PC games sales proved too much for the market to overcome."
In terms of number of units sold, the hottest title for the holidays, excluding games, was Microsoft Office 2007 Home & Student Edition (3 User License). But security also seemed to be on the minds of gift givers, as the top 5 list rounded out with Webroot AntiVirus w/AntiSpyware, Norton 360 3.0, Kaspersky Antivirus 2010, and Trend Micro AntiVirus 2010 Plus Anti-Spyware.