Apple sells 1.7 million iPhone 4s in first three days


Apple Inc. said Monday that it sold more than 1.7 million of its new iPhones in its first three days, shattering the previous record for sales of the popular smart phone.

Sales of the iPhone 4 beat demand for last year’s iPhone 3GS, which sold 1 million in the same time period.

“This is the most successful product launch in Apple’s history,” Chief Executive Steve Jobs said in a statement. “Even so, we apologize to those customers who were turned away because we did not have enough supply.”

Many stores ran out of the phone when it went on sale last Thursday, as hundreds of thousands of people across the country waited in long lines that have become a tradition for Apple fanboys.

The record sales came despite controversy over the device, which boasts the newest update to Apple’s operating system — iOS 4 — and the iPhone 4-to-iPhone 4 video chatting feature, FaceTime.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company halted taking advance orders the week before the launch, saying that it was worried about being able to make the phones fast enough to meet demand. More than 600,000 iPhone 4s were sold on the first day Apple began taking pre-orders.

Then, after the launch, customers complained that the phone loses its signal when it is held in a certain way. Apple explained that holding the phone in a particular position can interfere with the antenna and recommended that customers don’t hold it that way.

And for those waiting to get their hands on the white version of the new iPhone, they’ll have to wait until the end of July. Apple said in a statement that a white iPhone 4 proved to be “more challenging to manufacture than expected.” The availability of the black phone, however, has not been affected.

Despite Apple’s setbacks, the iPhone 4’s early sales figures exceeded Piper Jaffray & Co. analyst Gene Munster’s initial prediction of 1.5 million. Sales are expected to remain strong as the device becomes available in 18 additional countries by the end of July.

The new device has also debuted in France, Japan, Germany and Britain and is scheduled to be for sale in 88 countries by September.