As pretty much expected, the Apple iPod has been the leading gift this Christmas this holiday season for a 3rd time in a row. With the large number of new iPod owners and those who received Apple gift cards, the iTunes store has been overwelmed on Christmas day with a 413% increase in traffic over the same day last year. The website's performance was affected to the point where users were waiting as long as 20 minutes to download a tune, much like the time it often would take over a legacy 56k dial-up connection.
Besides the iTunes store, Apple's online store for iPods and computers seen a 110% increase in traffic that same day, making it the 4th most visited site on Christmas day, going by Hitwise. Many of its online store visitors were the result of consumers browsing accessories for their new iPods.
According to JupeterResearch, the iPod is expected to keep a significant market share for the next 12 to 18 months regardless of the Zune and other potential competitors, such as MP3 capable mobile phones. However, Apple may have to watch out in the long term, particularly with still charing by the song/ablum and locking its store to its iPod. At this time, the iTunes online store has been reported to be back up to speed again.