You're not done shopping yet: The holiday boom is just beginning for apps

  • Now that new devices have been unwrapped, it's time to load them up with apps and software.
  • New Year's Day, not Christmas, was the App Store's record-breaking day holiday season.
  • Apple and Google are making it easier than ever to sign up for new software.

The weeks before Christmas may be prime time for America's physical retailers, but now that everybody's unwrapped their new gadgets, it's time to load them up with apps.

Third-party data from Sensor Tower found that spending on apps over Christmas weekend 2016 grew 52 percent from the previous year. But New Year's Day, not Christmas, was the App Store's record-breaking day last holiday season. Customers spent $240 million in the App Store on Jan. 1, 2017, according to Apple, after spending $3 billion for the entire month of December 2016.

That pace probably won't slow this year. A Mastercard SpendingPulse report released Tuesday estimates that sales of electronics and appliances over the holidays increased 7.5 percent, the strongest growth over the past decade. Amazon's mobile app and website saw more than 1,400 electronics products ordered every second over the holidays.

Meanwhile, Apple and Google are making it easier than ever to get new software.

Google's promotion, 12 days of Play, runs through the end of the year and offers discounts on apps in the Play store, including HBO Now, Pokemon Go and Candy Crush.

With the 10th anniversary of the App Store coming in 2018, software revenue is increasingly a key part of Apple's business, too. The company is aiming to double its software and services revenue by 2020. Though the company doesn't release App Store sales numbers regularly, KeyBanc's Andy Hargreaves estimated in June that over half of Apple's service-related profits will come from the App Store in 2017.

And Apple has revamped its physical store offerings, which should help customers get their devices working faster — in New York City on Tuesday, there were classes on basics of the iPhone, Apple TV and Apple ID and iCloud.

It should set app makers up for a busy year. A December report from App Annie predicts consumers across the world will spend 30 percent more — $110 billion — in 2018, as Android expands in India and Brazil, and Apple's augmented reality apps gain steam.