How Apple sold 2 million Beatles songs

November 27, 2010, 11:40 AM UTC

The traffic came largely from Facebook and other social networks, not search engines

What drove Beatles fans to iTunes on Nov. 16, the day Apple (AAPL) released the first digital editions of The Beatles’ catalog?

Robin Goad, research director of Hitwise UK, has analyzed the traffic from his side of the pond and turned up some surprising and not-so-surprising results:

  • Traffic to the Apple website spiked dramatically that day, with visits from U.K. Internet users increasing by 382% between Nov. 14 and Nov. 16.
  • 26.32% of all Apple traffic on the 16th came from social networks, compared with 16.59% two days earlier.
  • On the day of the release, one in every 200 visits that left Facebook went directly to
  • Searches for all Beatles-related terms increased 30-fold that week, but Wikipedia got 31.44% of the search clicks, and Apple U.K. only 1.24%. Apparently, people were searching for information about the Beatles, not their music.

For more of Goad’s charts and graphs, click here.

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]