According to analyst estimates, Apple sold its 500 millionth iPhone in the last few weeks, marking an important milestone since the device’s introduction in 2007.
Apple’s own reports reveal that the company has sold 472 million iPhones since its launch till the end of 2013. Analysts estimate that the company will sell over 38 million iPhones this quarter, and with only a few days left for the quarter to end, it’s very likely that the 500th iPhone has already been sold.
Making the estimate for the half-billionth iPhone is a bit fraught as we don’t have sales figures from Apple for the current quarter. Analysts are mixed, with Katy Huberty of Morgan Stanley looking for 42 million as Forbes’ contributor Chuck Jones noted and the consensus forecast around 38 million. The consensus would have placed the milestone sale around March 8 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 less than 7 years. And the most recent 100 million took somewhere between 2-6 weeks less than the previous 100 million did.
The first iPhone went on sale in 2007, and since then, year-after-year, Apple has witnessed tremendous growth in sales of the device. It took Apple a little less than 4 years to hit the first 100 million, but the next 100 million took just a year, and so on, as seen in the graph below.
Apple generally celebrates milestones like 50 billion app downloads, the 30th anniversary of the Mac etc., but the 500 millionth iPhone sold seems to be absent from the company’s list of celebrations. Maybe it is waiting for the next earnings to announce this milestone.
Even after selling half a billion iPhones, there’s a lot of scope of growth for Apple, especially in markets like China, where the iPhone accounts for a very small share of total smartphones. Apple may see a slump in sales in the next few months as buyers hold out for the iPhone 6, but there’ll be a huge surge in sales after Apple finally introduces an iPhone with a larger screen.