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Apple IPhone 4 Sets Sales Record of 1.7 Million Units

Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs holds the iPhone 4
Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs holds the iPhone 4. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Apple Inc. sold 1.7 million iPhone 4s in its first three days, a record for the newest iteration of its top-selling product featuring video calling and an updated body.

The iPhone 4 made its debut in the U.S., U.K., Japan, France and Germany on June 24. Many stores, including retailer Best Buy Co., sold out. The previous 3GS model sold 1 million during its first weekend.

Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs added new features including a high-definition video camera, a sharper screen and multitasking that allows the use of several programs at once. Apple is competing against Research In Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry and phones made by companies such as HTC Corp. that use Google Inc.’s Android operating system.

“This is the most successful product launch in Apple’s history,” Jobs said in a statement.

Analysts including Colin Gillis of BGC Partners LP in New York and Andy Hargreaves of Pacific Crest Securities in Portland, Oregon, projected Apple would sell 2 million iPhone 4s by June 26, the end of the company’s fiscal quarter. Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray Cos. in Minneapolis, estimated 1 million to 1.5 million.

Apple had a difficult time getting enough touch screens to meet demand for the device, said Ashok Kumar, an analyst at Rodman & Renshaw Inc. in New York, so the early sales figures may not be an accurate reflection of demand.

“It’s too early to say if this is negative,” said Kumar. While Apple has some production constraints, the company “has a captive audience,” he said. “Demand for the iPhone 4 is not yet satiated so it just gets pushed out into subsequent quarters.”

IPhone, IPad

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, rose $1.60 to $268.30 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares have risen 27 percent this year.

Hargreaves rates Apple “outperform” and Munster rates it “overweight.” Gillis recommends buying the stock and Kumar rates it “market outperform.”

The iPhone sales results follow Apple’s statement last week that it sold more than 3 million of its iPad tablet computing device in the first 80 days.

With the iPad, introduced April 3, and the three-year-old iPhone, Apple has widened its business beyond the Macintosh computer and iPod media player. IPhone sales accounted for 40 percent of revenue last quarter.

Apple’s share price has more than doubled since the original iPhone’s release on June 29, 2007. The company is now the world’s largest technology company by market value.

Reception Problems

Some iPhone 4 customers reported trouble with the new antenna design. The phone signal drops when users cover the bottom left corner of the device with their palm. Apple recommended holding the phone differently or using a case to solve the problem.

Customers in the five countries began lining up days in advance to buy the device. Users have access to more than 225,000 applications for playing games, listening to music or finding a nearby restaurant.

Apple said the iPhone will be available in 88 countries by the end of September.

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