Retailers had a bumper May with software sales more than double that of the same month last year. The latest figures released by channel research company Inform suggest that over 56,000 units were sold over the month, a 172 per cent increase on May 2001.
Inform analyst Phil Burnham said all areas of packaged software saw increased sales, particularly those in the productivity' category, which includes office productivity software, antivirus and Internet security software, along with document-management and voice-recognition software.
Many categories in the productivity software sector also grew considerably compared to the preceding months. Antivirus software shipments were up 70 per cent on April 2002, a massive 259 per cent on May 2001.
Burnham attributed the growth to user anxiety over such viruses as the Klez worm. Australian retailers sold over $1.2 million of AV software over the month with sales of Symantec, McAfee and Trend Micro products growing by 53 per cent, 110 per cent and 87 per cent, respectively.
Healthy Windows XP sales saw the operating systems sector also grow, by 31 per cent over the month.
Although May was a solid month, catalogue seller and retailer Lorenzo Coppa of Melbourne's City Software said there were no radical increases in sales. "There was nothing released in the month that was ultra exciting," he said. "I can't say we saw such growth."
Coppa said that not only are there few innovative software products hitting the retail shelves, but large vendors such as Microsoft are not providing any compelling argument to upgrade such as through new features or price reductions. "In vendor-land, it's still very conservative. Perhaps, rightly so," he said.
The market is still not back in form, Coppa said, and the only reason his business is growing is through market consolidation among his competitors. "We are just getting market share," he said. "The market isn't getting any bigger."
Nevertheless, Coppa expects a record June and is finding that it is easier to make accurate sales forecasts now that the market has stabilised.
Burnham said he expects that June's figures will also be strong, as businesses spend up before the end of the financial year.