Financial software responsible for negative market

Retail software sales may be down but the market is definitely not out, according to latest figures from market analyst Inform.

The negative growth that dogged July sales continued through August, Inform analyst Phil Burnham said while overall software sales continued to slide, the market was far from collapsing.

"The main thing pulling the market down is financial software sales," Burnham said. "We saw exceptionally high sales in June and that hasn't helped August growth rates, but the market is not collapsing -- that's not happening."

Declining sales in accounting and financial software and increasing software prices following the boom surrounding GST implementation are to blame for the overall dip in the market. Other sectors, including creativity software, operating systems and productivity software, recorded growth throughout August.

"Sales in finance software are now at the same level as they were during March. What we are seeing is a return to equilibrium after a period of rapid growth," Burnham said.

"Even in July, a lot of companies which had not adopted financial solutions were still purchasing software. But the market has dropped off tremendously in August and that is purely due to the finance sector returning to its normal level."

Productivity software proved to be the biggest seller, with a monthly growth rate of 38 per cent. Antivirus software sales jumped 95 per cent, with other utility software up 40 per cent on July figures. Symantec's Norton Anti Virus 2000 made up around 53 per cent of antivirus sales, ahead of Network Associates, with 41 per cent and Computer Associates with 3 per cent. Other Symantec utility products accounted for five of the top 10 best selling titles in that sector.

"Antivirus software saw a huge drop off in July. That could just have been consumers buying pre-GST when software was cheaper so July sales missed out and that market is evening out," Burnham said.

"Even operating systems sales have seen positive growth with the release of Window ME, although sales have slower than expected."

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