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Latest apps & ebooks trends – but is it a clicks & mortar world?

So, Christmas has come and gone, and with it we’ve seen a huge surge in the sale of tablet devices, including iPads and Amazon Kindles, as well a huge surge in app and ebook downloads. But is that it? Are we now entering a totally digital world? Is there still room for more traditional business models? Or will the new normal be a mixture: clicks and mortar or maybe clicks and paper? Here is a round-up of some of the ecommerce data to have surfaced over the past week…

According to the mobile analytics firm Flurry (reported in The Guardian) all previous records for app downloads for iPhone, iPad and Android devices were shattered on Christmas Day, with 328 million downloads on 25 December alone. That’s up from 242 million iOS and Android downloads on Christmas Day in 2011. This figure also represents a 112% increase on the 155 million daily average for app downloads over the period 1-to-20 December 2012.

Flurry also estimates that 17.4 million new iOS and Android devices were activated on 25 December, up from 6.8 million in 2011 and 2.8 million in 2010. Over the first 20 days of December 2012, daily activations of iOS and Android devices averaged 4 million. Flurry estimates that 51% were tablets and 49% were smartphones and sauys “the big winners were Apple iPads, Apple iPad Minis and Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7″ tablets.”

Separate research based on the US market show that 25% of Americans aged 16 and older own tablet computers, up from 10% at the end of 2011, while the number of people owning either a tablet or an e-reading device was up to 33% this year, from 18% in late 2011.

According to Experian, UK internet users made 84 million visits to retail websites on Christmas Eve and 107 million visits on Christmas Day, up 86% and 71% respectively compared to the same days in December 2011. The Boxing Day level – 113 million visits – was 17% up on the same day in 2011. Typically, during the year, there is an average of about 70 million visits on Mondays, the busiest day of the week for online shopping.

Anna Baddeley (writing in The Observer newspaper) predicts that (1) e-reader sales will tail off as people buy tablets instead,  (2) basic Kindles and Nooks will soon cost the same as a hardback, (3) ebooks will continue to cost less than a single espresso, and (4) libraries and publishers will be unable to agree over ebook lending rights.

Suggestions that e-readers may be about to wiped out by generic tablets didn’t stopped the Pearson publishing group bought a 5% stake in Barnes & Noble’s Nook Media digital business for $89.5 million last Friday. Pearson’s investment follows Microsoft’s $300 million investment in Nook Media earlier in 2012. Microsoft now has a 16.8% stake in Nook, while Barnes & Noble retains a 78.2% stake. Nook Media is a Barnes & Noble subsidiary consisting of the company’s e-reader and tablet business, its digital content store and its college bookstores.

Finally, we have the confusing finding that while ebook readership is increasing – the number of Americans aged 16 and over who have read ebooks over the past 12 months grew from 16% last year to 23% at the end of this year. Over the same period, the number of those who read printed books fell from 72% to 67% – the UK publishing industry had its best Christmas for three years. A total of £75.4m was spent on printed books in the seven days to 22nd December – up 19.3% (£12.2m) on the previous week. Sales were also up 1% (£1.4m) on the comparative week last year. It was the strongest week of printed book sales in revenue terms for the book trade since the week ending 19th December 2009 when £75.7m was spent in seven days.