The NPD Group, Inc. reports that PC software sales increased for 2002, with double-digit growth in the finance and business software categories. NPD is a market information company that measures product movement and consumer behavior across a broad range of industries.

"Retail software sales were strong in the third-quarter and by the end of September, retail unit volumes had closed the gap with the same year-to-date period in 2001," said Steve Koenig, senior software analyst for The NPD Group. "However, double-digit year-over- year unit declines during the critical fourth quarter in key software categories including PC games, education, and productivity software contributed to a lower annual retail volume for software in 2002."

Top-selling PC Titles for 2002: Estimated to 100 percent of the market

Title Publisher Released ASP
TurboTax 2001 Deluxe Intuit Nov-01 $39
Norton Antivirus 2002 8.0 Symantec Aug- 01 $44
TurboTax 2001 Intuit Nov-01 $20
TurboTax 2001 Multi State 45 Intuit Dec-01 $29
The Sims: Vacation Expansion Pack Electronic Arts Mar-02 $28
Taxcut 2001 Deluxe Block Financial Nov-01 $25
The Sims: Unleashed Expansion Pack Electronic Arts Sep-02 $28
Microsoft Windows XP Home Ed. Upgrade Microsoft Oct-01 $98
Warcraft III: Reign Of Chaos Vivendi Universal Publishing Jun- 02 $54
Norton Antivirus 2003 Symantec Aug-02 $46

Source: The NPD Group/NPD Techworld

Retail sales of software titles surpassed 132 million units in 2002, falling 4.2 percent compared to 2001's results. Two software categories that experienced revenue growth during 2002 were finance (up 12 percent) and business (up 10.3 percent).

As in years past, roughly two-thirds of the retail unit volume in the finance category is attributable to tax titles. Retail tax software revenues in 2002 grew almost 15 percent when compared with 2001. Overall unit sales of tax titles during 2002 improved 3.3 percent. This year's tax season is already off to a good start, with retail dollar sales of tax titles in December 2002 beating December 2001's figures by 7.1 percent. In addition, sales of accounting software also increased last year, with revenues jumping almost 19 percent.

"Despite competitive pressure from direct and online sales, tax software sales at retail continue to grow and the channel is crucial to competitors in this space for building brand awareness and winning new customers," said Koenig. "Expect sales of tax software to continue the growth trend into this year's tax season."

In the business software category, retail unit sales climbed more than 23 percent, while revenues moved more than 10 percent higher. Unit sales of system utilities spiked more than 17 percent, with unit sales of virus detection and disk back-up software jumping 29 percent and 46 percent, respectively. Robust sales of Microsoft's Office XP Student and Teacher edition drove the suite bundle segment to a unit sales gain of 38 percent in 2002. This title alone accounted for nearly 20 percent of the unit volume in the suite bundle segment last year.

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