Report: Holiday Boost For Smartphones, App Downloads

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Signs of improved holiday sales so far this year appear to extend to smartphones and app downloads, according to new data released Tuesday by mobile analytics firm Flurry. The findings show an uptick in new smartphones and downloads during the four-day Thanksgiving weekend based on tracking Flurry does via the thousands of apps that incorporate its analytics software.

So the total of new devices detected by Flurry jumped 57% to about 375,000 on Black Friday from the week earlier and 31% on average from Thursday to Sunday.

"Interestingly, this surge demonstrates that consumers appear to be buying and activating smartphones early in the season for personal use. This early indicator suggests that strong spending on smartphones as gifts throughout the season should continue," noted Peter Farago, VP of marketing at Flurry, in a blog post presenting the data.

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Not surprisingly, most of that growth is being driven by Apple iOS devices and popular Android smartphone, including the Samsung Galaxy S, Motorola Droid 2 and LG Optimus S.

Likewise, Flurry found app use spiked during the long holiday weekend, with Thanksgiving Day itself seeing the biggest gain with a 54% increase in downloads from the prior week. For the four-day period, downloads were up 25%. With Christmas typically the strongest season for app downloads, the firm sees the rise in activity over Thanksgiving as a harbinger for what's to come next month.

Overall holiday sales are already on track to outpace last year's total, especially online. For Thanksgiving and Black Friday, combined sales of $1.1 billion online were up 15% from a year ago, according to comScore. And Internet shoppers spent 20% more on so-called Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, than a year ago, according to IBM's Coremetrics unit.

Technology research firm IDC has predicted worldwide smartphone shipments in 2010 will reach 270 million, up 55.4% from 173.5 million in 2009. Through the third quarter, 200.6 million units had been shipped, up 67.6% from the year-earlier period.

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