To accommodate last-minute Christmas shoppers, the online Apple Store is offering free next-day shipping until Christmas Eve on a number of its most popular products, including the iPod, iPhone and iPad, ensuring Apple gifts arrive in time for Christmas. Eligible items for next-day shipping include the Apple TV, non-engraved iPods, non-engraved iPads, non-customized Mac computers, and the iPhone 3GS, 4 and 4S.
Prior to the next-day shipping offer, Apple volunteered free 2-3 day shipping on all of its items, also allowing any purchase to be returned until Jan. 9.
Since the tragic death of the company's founder Steve Jobs on Oct. 5, Apple has enjoyed an eventful and profitable holiday season. In the last two months, Apple released its next-gen iPhone 4S, introduced its AI personal assistant Siri to the world, and opened its second-largest Apple Store in the busiest train station in the world, Grand Central Terminal.
Apple reportedly broke its single-day sales record on Black Friday, Nov. 25, reaching its projected forecast by 7 p.m. and far exceeding those figures by the end of the day. While the discounts were far from extraordinary, Apple again offered free shipping for all its products, as well as free engravings on the back of its iOS devices. Coupled with the fact that Apple rarely doles out discounts, consumers jumped at a chance to own Apple's stylish devices.
Apple was the fifth-most visited online retail store on Black Friday, behind Amazon, Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Target. There have been no reports on how many people visited its 357 retail stores and Apple has not released exact figures for individual categories, but inside sources say the entry-level 11.6-inch MacBook Air sales sold particularly well. Apple offered a 10 percent discount of $101 for MacBook Air, and a similar savings for MacBook Pro and iMac this year.
Mobile sales drove most of this year's Black Friday and Cyber Monday business, accounting for 14.3 percent of all online Black Friday traffic and 9.8 percent of all online purchases. The iPad was the clear leader among mobile devices, with conversion rates hovering around 4.6 percent. iPad sales per hour jumped 68 percent from last year, and analysts believe Apple is still on track to sell 13.5 million iPads in the December quarter.
Apple's new iPhone model, the 4S, has been a big target on many shopping lists. Despite offering no discount on the smartphone, 75 percent of Apple Stores sold out of the new iPhone 4S on Black Friday. AT&T reportedly sold out of the phone at about 50 percent of its stores over the weekend, and stock-outs occurred nationwide at Verizon Wireless stores. Sprint reportedly had a large stockpile of phones to accommodate the high demand.