Between the launch of the first iPhone in 2007 and the end of 2013, Apple sold 472 million of the various versions of its smartphone. This figure is revealed by totalling up all of the Apple quarterly earnings reports during that period.
The end of the current quarter (Q1 2014) comes in just a few days (31 March) and even conservative estimates by analysts put this quarter’s sales figures at over 38 million. If that’s true, this means that somewhere, someone recently and quietly sold the 500 millionth iPhone.
Forbes has been doing some maths and came to the following conclusion: “The consensus would have placed the milestone sale around 8 March given that entering the quarter Apple had sold 472 million iPhones. So even if it proves a bit high as it did last quarter, we’ve crossed the point where it’s safe to assume that Apple has sold 500 million smartphones in fewer than seven years. And the most recent 100 million took somewhere between two to six weeks less than the previous 100 million did.”
Forbes is surprised that Apple hasn’t made an announcement about the fact, pointing out how Apple generally likes to mark milestones and special occasions. Earlier this year (in January) the company celebrated the 30th birthday of the Macintosh computer with a whole raft of event, interviews and announcements. And remember Tim Cook still sends out a special tweet or two on Steve Jobs’ birthday.
With continued negative press and uncomplimentary books about the company swirling around the public’s consciousness, you might have thought this was a perfect opportunity for the Cupertino, California company to indulge in a bit of blowing its own trumpet.
Because not only does 500 million signify a massive number of phones sold, it also emphasises that the company is still enjoying acceleration of sales. “It took a while to reach 100 million,” notes Forbes. “In fact, the iPhone was on sale close to four years before it happened, sometime around February 2011… From there, though, iPhone sales really began to take off. It took just one year to reach 200 million, very likely in the middle of February 2012. The 300 millionth iPhone was sold before the calendar closed on 2012.”
Doing a spot of long-range forecasting, Forbes’ Mark Rogowsky reckons, ”The billionth iPhone seems likely to arrive before the calendar turns to 2017,” while smartly hedging his bets. “Just don’t quote me on that,” he concludes.