Macworld San Francisco drives interest in Apple and third-party Mac-focused Web sites, according to online analysts at Hitwise.

Recent figures reveal that online traffic on Apple's site was higher than previous records in the week ending January 15, and even exceeded the traditionally busy Christmas week traffic.

“While Macworld always stirs predictable levels of excitement among Apple addicts, the intense traffic to the Apple sites suggests that last week’s product announcements were noteworthy events for the mainstream,” said Bill Tancer, vice president of research at Hitwise.

“Daily visit data suggest that Apple created more than a one-day spike in interest for itself, however many will be watching over the next weeks and months to see if the momentum carries on.”

Apple breaks its record

Apple Store ranked number 15 in the Hitwise Shopping and Classifieds - Computer category on January 10, but by January 12 it reached number six. Traffic remains higher than any levels reached in all of 2004, Hitwise reports.

For the week ending Jan. 15, 2005, search terms related to iPod shuffle and Mac mini accounted for 7 per cent of all searches that delivered visits to the Apple Store.

Apple's decision to litigate against Think Secret also drove traffic to that site by 1,000 per cent, HitWise said.