April 9, 2012, 3:29 PM

Amazon’s digital sales grow faster than Apple’s

Amazon’s Q1 digital sales grew 29% over Q4, eDataSource says.

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Amazon.com Inc.’s digital sales of e-books, music, videos and mobile apps surged 29% in the first quarter compared with the fourth quarter of 2011, as measured by revenue. That beat the 2% growth of digital sales during the same period for rival Apple Inc.’s iTunes, market research firm eDataSource reported today. The firm provided no year-over-year sales comparisons.

“29% growth from the previous quarter is an impressive number,” says Carter Nicholas, CEO of eDataSource, formerly known as Email Data Source.

EDataSource didn’t provide actual digital sales figures. Neither Amazon, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, nor Apple, No. 3, break out digital sales from their total sales.

But eDataSource notes that Apple continues to dominate digital sales. Apple’s domestic digital sales, which Apple processes through its iTunes online store, are 3.5 times those of Amazon’s, eDataSource says. It also says that average spending per customer is 65% higher on iTunes compared with Amazon.

Still, eDataSource says that Amazon and other online retailers (which the report didn’t name) are gaining on Apple as they improve their online stores for digital products. “Amazon and others are behind but showing growth as their ecosytems become more robust and complete,” Nicholas says.

For example, he adds, Amazon’s video-on-demand service enables customers to buy and watch videos immediately, “whereas with iTunes you have to wait a long time for the movie to download.”

Apple, however, makes it easy to buy music via iPhones and iPads, eDataSource says. It adds that Apple’s digital sales are often made on weekdays, while Amazon’s digital video sales are particularly strong on Sunday evenings.

Apple did not immediately reply to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for Amazon said it had no comment on the report.

EDataSource says that digital sales grew across all product categories in the first quarter. But it noted that Amazon’s digital sales were mainly to consumers using Amazon’s Kindle tablet computer to purchase digital versions of printed publications like books, magazines and newspapers, which accounted for 77% of Amazon’s digital sales over the past six months. The report also notes that music accounted for about 12% of Amazon’s digital sales, video-on-demand 8%, and mobile apps 2%.

EDataSource didn’t provide a similar break-down of Apple’s digital sales. The research company bases its findings on a panel of 800,000 consumers and  monitoring of more than 800,000 consumer e-mail inboxes and 9,000 brands.

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