iphone sales figures 2009: fastest selling gadget in history? Not quite!

Key Facts

Click here for UK smartphone stats, June 2011

Q3 2010 Smartphone Sales Figures (including the iPhone)

Latest smartphone figures: Apple’s market share drops, but iPhone’s profit outstrips all the others

iphone AND ipodtouch sales 2009 18.5% of Apple turnover (up from 5.7%)
Number of units sold (all versions over 24 months): 52 million
Number of UK units sold to (all versions since release): Estimated at 1.5 million*
Motorola Razr units sold: 110 million
Smartphone market shares (Q3 2009): Nokia 39.7%, RIM/Blackberry 20.6%, Apple 17.8%

*The last published sales figures from O2 were 1 million iphones in Feb 2009

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The latest sales figures released by Apple (reported in ME News) show that the iphone is becoming increasingly important to their bottom line. Apple are currently taking third place in the smartphone market, behind RIM and Nokia.

With an increase from 5.7% to 18.5% of the turnover for the iphone, it has reduced the company’s dependance on ipod and Mac sales, which fell in 2009.
However, the claim in a techcrunch article that the iphone/ipodtouch is the fastest gadget in history doesn’t seem to be entirely acurate. In an article ‘How the iphone is blowing everyone else away‘, it suggests that Apple have created a consumer electronics device that has sold faster than the Nintedo Wii or PSP 2 etc.

These figures just don’t seem to add up to me:

There are actually two devices: the iphone and the ipod touch. One is a phone and the other is a media player, making them two quite distinctive markets. The fact that some people own both is evidence of this.

If we look purely at the iphone itself, then it has a lot of catching up to do before it reaches the sales levels of the Motorola Razr: 50 million units in first 18 months and 110 million units in total. It’s taken Apple more like 24 months to sell 57 million units. And the Razr sales were for a single device, unlike the iphone figures, which include the original version, the 3G and 3Gs versions (and the ipod touch). So many of those are upgrades from existing owners.
If we want to count all of the later Razr models it massively out strips the iphone levels of sales to date.

There is no denying the popularity of the device. For example 60% of mobile internet browsing comes from iphones/ipod touches. A great example of the success of the interface and browsing capabilities.

Yet again, it needs to be seen in context. Prior to the iphone, the options in the US for mobile internet connectivity were limited and slow. Similarly the 3G connection in the US is often faster than the available landline connections, so it is hardly surprising that iphone web browsing has proved so popular.

In short, whilst the iphone is undoubtedly successful, it is important not to read too much into the claims made from the figures.

Related Information: iphone app usage statistics
Developing iphone apps for brands
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