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1.7M iPhone 4s Sold in First Weekend; Most Successful Apple Product Launch Ever

Apple (s aapl) announced today that it has already sold more than 1.7 million new iPhones in the first three days of the device being on sale. That’s a record among Apple’s own product launches, and I’d guess that it might be some kind of record for the industry at large.

Remember also that the iPhone 4 is only available for sale in five countries so far, including Britain, France, Germany, Japan and the U.S. Even with the limited initial launch, Apple had trouble keeping the iPhone in stock and shortages caused crowds to become disgruntled at multiple locations.

Steve Jobs apologized for the delays, while also patting himself on the back for a job well done. “This is the most successful product launch in Apple’s history,” he said. “Even so, we apologize to those customers who were turned away because we did not have enough supply.”

The iPhone 4 reached record heights despite numerous reports of signal problems when the phone is held in a certain way, with fingers touching two contact points in the steel band surrounding the case, which doubles as an antenna. While some news outlets are billing the flaw as a major design problem, not all units appear to be affected, and Steve Jobs has advised users who are affected to either hold it a different way or put a case on the iPhone to prevent issues.

The new iPhone also has yet to be offered in significant quantities at secondary retailers like Best Buy (s bby) and Walmart (s wmt), so when stock levels are sufficient enough to allow for more presence there, we’ll most likely see more big gains. AT&T (s att) is also having trouble keeping the device in stock, and I wouldn’t hold my breath for Apple sticking to the July date promised if you don’t live in one of the initial launch countries.

For context, remember that the iPhone 3GS sold almost half this number during its launch weekend, with one million units moved, and Canada, Italy, Spain and Switzerland were among the first countries to get the device that time around. When the iPhone 4 launches in 15 more countries next month, expect sales to break even more numbers, despite any negative press Apple happens to be getting regarding reception issues and the breakability of the iPhone’s case when dropped from relatively small distances.

If you haven’t yet purchased an iPhone 4, but were planning to, are the reported problems with the device influencing your decision at all? I’m in Canada, but I still plan on picking one up next month when it comes out, even if there is no sure fix for the receptions issues. Am I just a glutton for punishment, or do the benefits outweigh the downsides?

4 Responses to “1.7M iPhone 4s Sold in First Weekend; Most Successful Apple Product Launch Ever”

  1. ScottK

    Well, I pre-ordered and got mine a day early. I sold my HD camcorder on ebay to balance the cost of the upgrade and I am not unhappy with the results.

    The reason, in my opinion, that people are still buying a version X.0 product is due to the history Apple has with taking care of their customers. ATT servers overwhelmed and pre-order folks having trouble? They ate the $18 upgrade fee. Is that a big deal? No, but consider how much money that actually cost them in potential profit.

    Now, I’m sure this is flamebait for some anti-fanboy to say, “Yeah, well what about the time they didn’t fix THIS?” but I think that in general, Apple goes out of it’s way to support the customers. And that’s coming from a person (me) who’s been “Steved” at least twice. I owned a Newton AND had a G4 Cube. Before the iPhone, I had a Sidekick (the first two versions) and a Windows Mobile phone. There are still features I wish for on the iPhone that I had with the Windows phone — but the simplicity and reliability of the iPhone makes those missing features secondary.

    And the fact that with Applecare, I have had my phone replaced (because my 3-year-old was trying to help and ripped my phone from the cradle) with no questions asked.

    There is a reason that Apple customer service is rated head-and-shoulders above the rest and I think that is a huge, under-recognized part of why they sell like they do.

  2. Laila22

    I went to get in line at one of the smaller, less popular apple stores at 1am On launch day and went straight home after seeing the rows of tents that were wrapped around the mall. Now I’m honestly glad I “missed out.” If the antenna and breakability issues are worked out somehow, then I will give it a chance. From what I’ve read, the antenna prob seems purely a hardware problem, but I truly hope it is minimal and software-related like you suggest. For now, my 3gs works just fine and doesn’t disappoint.

  3. Cold Water

    Yeah, somehow they did it.

    It’s not like they made a few million users’ phones obsolete and gave them early upgrades to a substantially better product or anything.