As Apple’s new iPhone 4S has topped four million units sold in its first weekend, we thought it might be appropriate to look back at Apple’s iPhone launch history and the evolution of weekend sales figures over time. The original iPhone launched in the United States in June 2007, and Apple announced the 1 millionth unit was sold after 74 days. During the launch quarter’s earnings call, however, the company confirmed 270,000 iPhones had been sold in the first 30 hours of U.S. availability.
Since the iPhone 3G, which followed the original iPhone in 2008 with a new design and 3G connectivity, Apple has always managed to publish press releases announcing at least 1 million iPhone units sold after the first opening weekend. Both the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS, launched in multiple countries on Day One, registered 1 million sales in the first weekend. The iPhone 4, announced at WWDC last year by Steve Jobs and featuring a completely new design with more powerful CPU and improved camera, was the first iPhone to break the 1 million figure and jump past 1.7 million units sold in three days.
With the iPhone 4S, Apple went back to announcing “1 million units sold” — only with pre-orders and after 24 hours, not three days. In the launch weekend, as reported this morning, the company reported over 4 million iPhone 4S units sold in the seven countries the device launched on October 14th: US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Australia and Japan.
Bigger weekend sales numbers are a result of the impressive growth of the iPhone in the past four years. Take a look at this graph we posted during the Q3 2011 earnings call in July: Apple went from 8.4 million iPhones sold in Q3 2010 to 20.3 million units in the third fiscal quarter of 2011. Launch days obviously attract far more “Apple fans” always waiting to get their hands on the latest device than “regular” sales weeks throughout the year, but clearly the popularity of the iPhone as a mass-market device is also affecting the lines around the world we see on every iPhone launch. It’s also widely believed that the iPhone 4S attracted several customers who bought an iPhone 3GS in 2009, and waited two years to get an updated model. The iPhone 4S is sold unlocked outside the US since day one, but it appears some US models have been sold without SIM-lock as well. According to Apple, unlocked iPhone 4S units will be sold starting this November.
Check out the full-size graph of Apple’s iPhone launch history here, or click on the image below to enlarge.
In an unsurprising turn of events following the launch of a survey among readers who own an iPad, BusinessInsider posts a chart detailing how people use an iPad. And unsurprisingly, the usual suspects are on top: the chart shows people use iPads to browse the web (36% in May 2011, 37.7% in November 2010), whilst 23% rely on the tablet for their email needs and communication skills happening on Twitter, Facebook, or other social networks that presumably have a native iPad app, otherwise that would count in the “web browsing” section, I guess. The iPad is also strongly used to watch videos (14.52% up from 11.50% in November 2010), play games and “use other apps.”
What about those other apps? Watching videos with Plex or other media managers is a great experience, especially when combined with AirPlay and an Apple TV in your living room. Playing games? Between Angry Birds and Sword & Sworcery there’s plenty of choice to go by. Other apps? They must refer to things like OmniFocus, Simplenote, LogMeIn, Instapaper and Screens. It’s all about the apps, but Safari is still king when it comes to spending time with an iPad, browsing the web.
WSJ tech journalist Walt Mossberg thinks Apple’s iPad is the best product of 2010. The iPad is “amazing” and thanks to the new iOS 4.2 and huge selection of apps available, it “continues to stay ahead of the competition”. Competition that saw devices like the Dell Streak released in 2010, which Mossberg calls a “tweener” that’s “too big to be a phone yet too small to be a tablet”. The Samsung Galaxy S and iPhone 4 both ranked third in Mossberg’s chart of best products.
As for the second place:
High-speed 4G networks in the United States took the second spot. As the world goes more mobile, the availability of faster networks is critical. Today, 3G networks are bursting at the seams, and the promise of these networks will be something to watch closely in 2011.
We might argue on the relevance of 4G networks in 2010, as they seem more “promising” than actually available right now. There’s no doubt, though, that better and faster mobile networks will expand in 2011. We look forward to seeing what Mossberg’s “best & worst” chart will look like in 2011.
So how well is the iPad doing, exactly? Apple sold 7.46 million units since the release date through September 25th; analysts regard the iPad as the fastest selling consumer electronic device in history. How about the Mac? It outsold Apple’s computers too, in just two quarters.
Take a look at the chart below, courtesy of Horace Dediu. The iPad has been around for 6 months; Macs have been on the market for 322 months. Oh, and it’s not that Macs have slowed down: they’ve grown faster than the overall PC industry.