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iPhone 4: the fastest-selling 'console' ever?

1.7m in three days - outsells prior models, PS2 and DS

The newest iPhone has become the fast-selling mobile handset in history - hitting 1.7 million units worldwide in its first three days of availability, according to figures released by Apple.

This significantly outperforms the 1.1 million mustered by the last model, the 3GS, and the 107,000 iPads (although the latter saw staggered international release dates).

Research by ITProPortal also suggests (though figures have been normalised) that the handset enjoyed a more successful initial launch than the Nintendo DS, PlayStation 3 and the ubiquitous Nokia 1100.

If accurate, those figures would make the iPhone 4 arguably the most successful console launch of all time, at least if the opinion of Epic's Mark Rein that it is "the console of the future" is believed. As most iPhone owners do not use the device primarily (or at all) for gaming, its designation is a matter of some debate.

It is worth observing, however, that those platforms all went on to achieve huge long-term sales (100 million in 28 months in the case of the 1100), while the PS2 and DS both saw asynchronous Japanese and American launches.

In addition, the PS2 also had less than 1 million units available at launch and it is likely that its initial figures would have been higher had more stock been released initially - while other hardware brands tend not to enjoy the particularly passionate dedication of many Apple early-adopters, which led to long overnight queues outside many stores worldwide.

But even earlier console successes did not match the iPhone 4's launch momentum - the NES sold 500,000 in its first two months in 1983, though again that was Japan only.

Some 51 million iPhones and iPod Touches have been sold since launch. In May, Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster predicted that Apple would sell 36 million iPhones worldwide this year.

By way of contemporary comparison, 40 million Xbox 360s have been sold since its launch in 2006, according to figures released by Microsoft in April.

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Alec Meer avatar
Alec Meer: A 10-year veteran of scribbling about video games, Alec primarily writes for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, but given any opportunity he will escape his keyboard and mouse ghetto to write about any and all formats.
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