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The most popular product of all time

The following is a list of the best-selling products across several categories:

Car model: VW Beetle 21.5 million
Car brand: Toyota Corolla 43 million
Music Album: Thriller 70 million
Vehicle: Honda Super Cub 87 million
Book Title: Lord of the Rings 150 million
Toy: Rubik’s Cube 350 million
Game console: Playstation 382 million
Book series: Harry Potter Series 450 million
Mobile Phone: iPhone 1 billion

The iPhone is not only the best selling mobile phone but also the best selling music player, the best selling camera, the best selling video screen and the best selling computer of all time.

It is, quite simply, the best selling product of all time.

It is that because it is so much more than a product. It is an enabler for change. It unleashed forces which we are barely able to perceive, let alone control. It changed the world because it changed us.

And it did all that in less than nine years. One has to wonder what it will enable in the next nine.

  • Luis Alejandro Masanti

    When I heard of that ‘first’ billion… I was unable to avoid remembering Steve Ballmer’s commentary… Or was Mitchel Dell’s?

    Congrats, Apple!

    • rattyuk

      Ballmer said;
      “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It’s a $500 subsidized item.”

      Michale Dell said:
      “What would I do? I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.”

      But it was Palm’s Ed Colligan who said:
      “PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.”

      • Luis Alejandro Masanti

        Thanks! I forgot about Palm’s…

      • Shawn Dehkhodaei

        At least Michael Dell was willing to eat his own dog food (with other people’s money of course). I have ZERO respect for Michael Dell or any of the other figures; just FYI.

  • Scott Sterling

    or is it the Bible?

    • Michael Shaler

      “Although it is impossible to obtain exact figures, there is little doubt that the Bible is the worlds best-selling and most widely distributed book. A survey by the Bible Society concluded that around 2.5 billion copies were printed between 1815 and 1975, but more recent estimates put the number at more than 5 billion.” http://goo.gl/oDmWZ0

      • Luis Alejandro Masanti

        That’s right… but the iPhone’s billion took 9 years.
        Bible’s billions took like 2000 years.

      • shepd

        A copy of the bible lasts a lot longer than an iPhone.

      • Luis Alejandro Masanti

        (With all due respect to religious believes.)
        If you open and read and close your copy of the Bible as many times a day as you do with your iPhone, I doubt it would last for long.

      • shepd

        Serious believers usually memorize the contents of the bible, or at least the parts they care about. They do use their bibles well, though. Yet they last a long time–those that read it often tend to buy high quality leather bound copies.

        (No, I’m not religious. I have met those that are serious about religion and seen their bibles and heard them quote from it from memory, however).

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      The Bible is not usually included in the list of best selling books. They are also usually categorized by language. But more pertinent to the comparison, it’s an out of copyright work so there is no license for the product.

  • Mike Little

    I believe McDonald’s might disagree…

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      Consumables are not included in comparisons of durables.

    • art hackett

      Have you already tried eating the items in the list?

  • Lars Funck

    There are several problems with this list. I believe close to a billion Big Macs are sold each year. And I have little doubt that Coca Cola has more than one product that sells in quantities above all on the list. Bic is estimated to have sold around 100 billion of its pens, which is far above all on the list combined.

    • Luis Alejandro Masanti

      As for edible products… the thing is quite different, IMO.
      Bic and Gilletes are good examples of what you pointed.

    • pjsx

      I’m sure the sand company sells more than 100 billion grains of sand each year. That’s not really congruent…

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      Consumables are not compared. This is a list of durable products.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durable_good

  • http://advomatic.com Dave Hansen-Lange

    In 2008 Logitech had shipped over a billion mouses, so I’m guessing they’re still way out ahead of everything else in your list:
    http://www.logitech.com/en-us/press/press-releases/5388

    • Reality Check

      I think you meant to say ‘Mice’

      • William Decker

        Meeses*

      • http://stirlo.space Stirlol

        Look at meeeeeeeeeeeeemr meseeeeeks

    • Lampshade

      No, your comparison is completely invalid. It it valid to compare sales of the Toyota Corolla to the iPhone, however. (Guess which one doesn’t require purchasing a replacement when the battery goes bad?) Why? Because only comparisons that hold up the arbitrary position that “the iPhone is the best selling thing ever” are allowed. Please keep that in mind before pointing out obvious logical flaws in the author’s logic next time.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      Note that this is a list of product lines with a single brand. Logitech cites many product lines in its list. I could have cited a total count of PCs from one manufacturer or even iOS devices from Apple. I did not.

  • David Monroe

    I have some problems with this list. It simply states “iPhone” which is any iPhone from the original, the side models like the C, and the screen size/storage variants.

    Using that as the basis of counting every album Michael Jackson made should be counted, not just the best selling. Is that the original Playstation? Or is it 1, 2, 3, 4, Portable, Vita, etc – all variants?

    Sorry, just a nerdy nit-picker putting in my two cents.

    • Meill

      It’d be very boring if we didn’t pick nits every now and then 🙂

      You still wouldn’t hit 1 Billion even if it included all models of PlayStation or Jackson Album.

      I think the point is that all models of iPhone are actually very similar – they are all high-end, the recent iPhone SE is still $400 and has the internal guts of the top of the range 6s.

      As a result, they are all still very homogeneous, unlike for example Samsung’s hundreds of models ranging from sub $100 phones right up to the premium Galaxy S7 Edge.

      • Raphael Tongoona

        What of low end Nokias (e.g. 1100, 1101 etc) Shall we aggregate and count them by the same logic? They at least deserve to be mentined on that list.

      • Meill

        Sure.

        Apparently 250 million Nokia 1100s were sold since its launch in late 2003,[1] making it the world’s best selling phone handset[2] and the best selling consumer electronics device in the world at the time.[3] The model of course has been discontinued since.

        Do you know how many 1101’s and the closely related 1108’s were sold? (certainly less than 250m each since the 1100 holds the record for single model)

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      All Playstations are counted.

  • a user

    except that samsung broke the 1 billion device barrier in early 2015.

    • John

      Does that include the E1100? Their best selling phone of all time?

      • Tim Locke

        No.

    • Meill

      Not for just one model like the Galaxy S line. Remember we’re talking just the VW Beetle, not the Golf and the Passat and the Jetta and the Combi etc.

    • art hackett

      So how any of those are still working or actually used? How many unsold? Have you seen a 1 billion device barrier?

      • Lampshade

        If you removed the number of iPhones that are unlod, no longer used, or no longer working, you fall well below the 1 billion barrier. The “iPhone” product name has been slapped on every single phone made by Apple since they started making phones, regardless of the similarities in hardware or capabilities. Newer models of iPhones were sold with the understanding that they would replace older phones models also named “iPhone.” If the same standard were applied to Samsung (it does appear as though you want to remain consistent), then the argument you argue against is perfectly valid.

      • Meill

        There is a vast difference between the sub $100 Samsung Galaxy Y phone and the premium $600 Galaxy S5.

        Not so between iPhones of the same year. Even the iPhone SE shares the same high performance internals as the iPhone 6S making for a much stronger case to be made that they are all the one product line.

      • Lampshade

        Take the Nokia candybar phones. There were different model number used because Nokia names its phone differently than Apple. Those phones combines accounted for several billion in total sales.

        Comparing items on price has nothing to do with the article on which you are commenting, though. The author very clearly compares the sales of iPhones against the sames of Rubik’s cubes and cars. One of these is less than $10, and one is generally over $20,000. The Toyota Corolla went through massive price increases over its lifespan, and those price differences exceed both the $500 and 6x multiplier aspects of the Samsung phones you dismissed. The author did not dismiss such differences.

      • Shawn Dehkhodaei

        You also forget that Nokia sold candy bar phones for much longer than 9 years …. and again consistency …. how many of those were in use after each “9 year” window? Toyota Corolla went through price increases due to inflation …. just as much as the iPhone …. Corolla’s price has been pretty much constant for the past 10-12 years.

      • art hackett

        It doesn’t look slapped on to me. It seems to be done quite well. And durably, although you could probably scratch it off if you try. It’s not like it’s a sticker or plastic glued on.
        You do realise the highest spec components are used that fit the energy consumption/performance/size requirements that are available in the year of manufacture, and these things change over subsequent years? I don’t understand your comment about “regardless of the similarities in hardware or capabilities”.

      • Shawn Dehkhodaei

        We only wish you would remain consistent.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      This is not a list of manufacturer output.

  • lwatcdr

    Yea I think the Big Mac and Coke a Cola beat that billion mark by several orders of magnitude. I would also classify the iPhone as a consumable since they do not have a user replaceable battery.

    • deasys

      I would also classify the iPhone as a consumable since they do not have a user replaceable battery.

      You don’t get to make up your own definition, Iwatcdr. This is what wikipedia says about a “durable good”:

      “In economics, a durable good or a hard good is a good that does not quickly wear out, or more specifically, one that yields utility over time rather than being completely consumed in one use. Items like bricks could be considered perfectly durable goods, because they should theoretically never wear out. Highly durable goods such as refrigerators, cars, or mobile phones usually continue to be useful for 3 or more years of use, so durable goods are typically characterized by long periods between successive purchases.”

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu
      • lwatcdr

        I did not say that it was classified as a consumable good in the office sense just that it has a relatively short useful life compared with a car, lathe, CNC mill, washing machine, TV, or stereo. People do not keep iPhones for very long and the lack of user replaceable battery really limits their life span. Of course you can replace the battery on an iPhone it just is not easy.

  • Marko Polio

    This intellectually deficient article uses some strange brand of logic in order to say that X is the best selling product of all time by cherry picking a list of random products that sold less, and completely ignoring other products that sold more.

    BIC alone sells almost 2 billion lighters per year, 3.6 billion shavers a year, and billions more pens, PER YEAR.

    Apples own press releases aren’t even this asinine. I’m ashamed of the website that linked to this as some kind of factual information.

    • deasys

      Yes, perhaps it would have been better if Horace had said ‘the iPhone was the best selling durable good item of all time.’

      • Marko Polio

        exactly how is an iPhone a “durable” product compared to a lighter or a pen? They all get depleted in a manner that the user can not fix themselves. Planned obsolescence is NOT durable.

      • handleym

        What evidence do you have that an iPhone (and for that matter a lighter or a pen) are examples of planned obsolescence? Consumables (pen, lighter) are not the same thing as planned obsolescence, neither is the fact that we can create better products three years from now than we can create today.

        It’s somewhat rich for a guy who apparently does not understand the key term in his argument to complain about an “intellectually deficient article”…

      • Tim Locke

        My current modern desktop PC is my 1981 IBM PC with upgrades. In comparison, Apple is the same as BIC.

      • art hackett

        A 1981 IBM PC. That’s luxury. We used to dream of 1981 IBM PC. We were lucky to have potato with wires.
        Young people today! They just don’t get it.
        And don’t get me started on BIC.

      • Shawn Dehkhodaei

        You have a picture you can share? I’d seriously be interested to see your 1981 “upgraded” PC that even runs Windows 95.

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu
      • Lampshade

        It’s not even the best selling cell phone of all time! By far!!

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_mobile_phones

      • deasys

        This article wasn’t referring to a specific model; it refers to the iPhone as a product line.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      Some of the original sourced data: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/05/18/24-7-wall-st-the-best-selling-products-of-all-time/9223465/
      Disposable pens are consumables (as are razors, food, toilet paper, etc.) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durable_good

  • Felix Gill

    if all iPhones are collectively a product allowing an aggregation of all iPhones sold — a similar definition for android phones would make iPhone look smaller – but then again a similar aggregation of sliced bread, ice cubes, bottled milk, skittles, and candy bars as a product would do as well. iPhone 1 – which i still have a working model of that i use for music – is not an iPhone 6, i literally cannot do the same things. They are different products, but the brand iPhone it was sold under has sold well. all with different operating systems – all with different hardware configurations — all with different usage capacities…so if iPhone has sold 1 billion, what about android phones?

  • http://photoblog.nicubunu.ro/ nicubunu

    I bet you a count for Samsung Galaxy would exceed the Apple number

    • John

      Not even close.

      • http://photoblog.nicubunu.ro/ nicubunu

        source? it looks like every quarter Samsung sells more devices compared to Apple: http://www.macrumors.com/2016/01/28/samsung-vs-apple-smartphone-sales-2015/

      • John

        What percentage of that is Galaxies? Through the Galaxy S5 Samsung had sold somewhere around 250 million in the line (including Note, etc). The S6 didn’t go all that well and the numbers are sketchy. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that they sold 75 million Galaxy S6 (that would be very generous) then their S7 sales would need to well over 500 million.

        I agree that the Galaxy product line has sold really well. It’s near the best Android phone that you can buy. However they sell a lot of models of smartphones.

      • http://photoblog.nicubunu.ro/ nicubunu

        since the article counts all iPhones, you will have to count all Galaxy phones, from S1 to S7 and also cheaper models like Galaxy Ace, Galaxy Prime and so on. There are plenty of them. Actually, it looks like all their current models are some sort of Galaxy.

      • John

        LOL. Add the E1100 as well.

      • ImplyingFacts

        Not all Samsung phones are Galaxys.

      • http://photoblog.nicubunu.ro/ nicubunu

        maybe not all, but almost all care called Galaxy these days. way more than just Galaxy S

      • http://www.jphotog.com Hrunga Zmuda

        Which waters down the word Galaxy to meaningless drivel.

      • http://photoblog.nicubunu.ro/ nicubunu

        just as drivel is here to count iPhones up to the first generation, when they didn’t have neither apps nor 3G

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

        First generation iPhone could run apps. Mine still does. Note that only about 14 million were sold.

      • art hackett

        In a galaxy far far away….

      • Meill

        No, you can only count the premium Galaxy S model and Apple has sold many more iPhones than Samsung has sold of the Galaxy S range. That’s why Samsung’s smartphone ASP is down at $225 – most of their phones are low-end sub-$200 phones.

        That’s why Horace highlighted the VW Beetle and didn’t include the Golf or the Combi or the Tourag etc.

      • http://photoblog.nicubunu.ro/ nicubunu

        No, you can count whatever you want. I see the author tries to count in a way that makes Apple look good, but this isn’t automatically the right way. He counted even iPhone 1, with no 3G and no apps, which is way weaker than any low-end Samsung (by today standards isn’t even a smartphone).

      • Meill

        Ah, but we’re talking different models through the years like there have been different models of VW Beetle through the years. The iPhone has always been the same expensive high end phone even back in the days of the iPhone 1. You can’t compare the tech in a phone from 2007 to a low-end phone in 2016 and say they’re the same tier.

      • http://photoblog.nicubunu.ro/ nicubunu

        who care about tiers? iPhones are overpriced anyway

      • Meill

        We’re talking about single product lines – which happen to also correlate with tiers i.e.. every premium Galaxy S model but not every sub $100 Galaxy Y model.

      • http://photoblog.nicubunu.ro/ nicubunu

        Obviously not, since the iPhone 5C for example is a different line, but still counted on the Apple side

      • Meill

        On the contrary, the iPhone 5c is the exception that proves the rule. 🙂

        The 5c was just the previous year’s model sold for a slightly lower price which instead of being sold as is, Apple slapped a plastic back on it to keep costs down.

        Just like there are number of variations of the Samsung Galaxy S series. They are all still part of that product line, unlike for example the Galaxy Y or the Samsung E1100 which are quite obviously completely different vastly cheaper product lines.

        Similar to how there were a few variations of the VW Beetle over the years, they were all still part of that 1 product line – quite distinct from the Passat and the Combi etc.

        This is fun isn’t it? 🙂

      • art hackett

        Or even the Galaxy Why? This is only fun for us, not the Flat Earthers.

      • Shawn Dehkhodaei

        That’s a great comeback. Very solid argument.

      • Shawn Dehkhodaei

        But he can. It’s called “cherry picking”.

      • art hackett

        “The Author” is only interested in facts, you know, actuality. Delusion pays no bills or earns any respect.

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

        Just because a company puts a brand on a set of products does not make them the same product. Jeep (for example) was a product but is now a brand covering many products. You could say you have a Jeep today and not imply you have a military vehicle or anything remotely related to one. Ultimately you need to use judgement when performing analysis.

    • Shawn Dehkhodaei

      How much is the bet?

      • http://photoblog.nicubunu.ro/ nicubunu

        a beer should be enough for a friendly bet

  • Reality Check

    What about a Big Mac? So tasty..

    • handleym

      Now THAT is a more interesting comparison. The number there is around 250 billion. Of course that’s a consumable in a way that electronics is not, but it does show that there are different ways to get to a very large number.

      A comparable number (sorta kinda) might be app store downloads, which is at around 130 billion — which puts both numbers in perspective…

      • Tim Locke

        A Big Mac is also much less expensive per unit.

      • Lampshade

        So… you’re saying that there’s no comparison between, say, an iPhone and a Toyota Corolla? People treat the iPhone just like a consumable, it costs far less than a car, but this article makes a direct comparison between the two.

      • Meill

        A $600 device with an average lifespan of 3.5 years is not called a consumable by most rational people.

      • Lampshade

        When the battery dies in a Toyota Corolla, you replace the battery. When you drop a Big Mac on the ground, you throw it away. iPhones don’t have replaceable batteries, and are generally unusable after being dropped on the ground. $600 or no, it’s a throwaway item for most of the people who have them.

      • Meill

        On the contrary, Apple and 3rd party providers very easily replace the battery or replace a broken screen on an iPhone for you. With an average life expectancy of 3.5 years, an ASP of $600 and a very lucrative second-hand market, the iPhone is hardly a throw-away device for the average person.

      • Lampshade

        If average people were buying iPhones, there’d be a hell of a lot more than just 1 billion sold. There are over 6 billion people alive right now, and far fewer than 1 billion of those were involved in the purchasing of the 1 billion iPhones. In fact, well over half of the iPhones that went into that 1 billion number are no longer in use. Where are they? (Thrown away!)

      • Meill

        Incorrect, with over 1 Billion active Apple devices around the world, Benedict Evans estimates that 650 million iPhones are still in use.

        But you are correct inasmuch as the average iPhone buyer has a significantly higher salary and education than the average Android buyer. That doesn’t however mean they are all millionaires who would throw away a $600 purchase without a moment’s hesitation – hence the 3.5 year average lifespan.

      • Lampshade

        Whoever Benedict Evans is, he’s either completely misinformed, or enjoys blowing smoke up your butt. For there to be 650 million iPhones still in use, there would have to be well over 200 million which aren’t even capable of running the latest version of the iOS, which Apple claims is not true.

      • Meill

        In January Apple reported that there were over 1 Billion active Apple devices (iPhones, iPads, Watches, iPod Touches, Apple TVs and Macs) growing at a rate of 25% on their Q4 2015 SEC quarterly report.

        We know Apple had sold 80m Macs, 12m Watches and probably around 15m Apple TVs in the last 4 years. That leaves almost 900 million active iOS devices.

        Apple has also sold 242m iPads in the last 4 years.

        That leaves us with *drum roll* about 650m iPhones give or take.

        Any questions?

      • Lampshade

        Nope, just answers. The best selling model of the iPhone was the combination of the 6 and 6 Plus, which was 100 million in total. The next to the best selling model was the 5, which sold 70 million, then the 4S at 60, 5S at 52, the 3GS at 35, and the 5C at 16. Other models have sold less. The 6S and 6 Plus S have sold well, but not as much as the 6 and 6 Plus yet. The 4S is the newest model of the phone to be incapable of running the latest version of iOS (10). The 4S was capable of running the latest version of iOS 9, but the 4 was not. Apple claimed back in April that over 84% of iPhones were running iOS 9. Stretching the number immensely, that puts the total number of iPhones reporting version to Apple (that is, “active” phones) at just over 400 million. That’s 400 million of the billion sold.

        I don’t doubt at all that there are over 1 billion active Apple devices. As you correctly pointed out, that family of devices includes not only the iPhone, but also the iPad, the Watch, iPod Touches, Apple TVs, and many models of Mac computers (including the Macbook, Macbook Pro, Macbook Air, many models of iMac, many models of Mac Mini, and a few iterations of the Mac Pro). Taking 400 million out of that billion active Apple devices leaves only 600 million total for all of those other Apple devices, which you put some number for, but significantly undercounted several others. The iPod touch, by itself, has sold several hundred million.

      • Meill

        Afraid you’ve got quite a few wild and wacky data points there.

        Apple announced in mid 2013 they had sold 100m iPod touches total since 2007, but by then iPod sales had plunged to 4m per quarter and falling off a cliff and the iPod touch was only a proportion of iPod sales. That gives us only about 20m iPod touches still active in the last 4 years. So much for “several hundred million”.

        In 2014, Apple announced there were 80m active Macs and Mac sales have been steady on about 5m per quarter since then.

        That gives us:
        80m Macs
        20m Apple TVs
        20m iPod Touches
        12m Apple Watches
        240m iPads
        630m iPhones (I accidentally wrote 650m earlier)

        Apple has sold 700m iPhones in the last 4 years, 424m in the last 2 years – are you truly trying to argue iPhones last less than the usual 2 year contract? Really?

        The hand-me-down and second-hand markets in iPhones are huge thanks to their high price and high resale value and machined aluminium unibody construction compared to the average plastic Android phone.

        Apple also reports that there are 782m active iCloud users with many shared family accounts and most Mac, iPad and AppleTV owners also own an iPhone.

        What’s so hard for you to believe about 630m iPhones still being active because that’s what Apple’s numbers are telling us.

      • Shawn Dehkhodaei

        He will argue “anything” and divert the argument as long as you let him win.

        Just write a reply that says “you win” and he’ll leave the thread.

      • art hackett

        “Whoever Benedict Evans is”, clarifies all we need to know.

      • Shawn Dehkhodaei

        Yeah, he’s a crony …. you should check out his website …. it’s full of these “analyst” type stuff … he also seems to boost Android’s numbers most of the time …. I think he also pulls those out of his ass. You can ignore him.

        I know you don’t like facts and figures, but here it goes:

        The number of iPhones sold between 2007 and 2011, is around 200 Million (scroll up and and you’ll see it), and the latest OS doesn’t run on the 4S (which was introduced in 2011), or at least it won’t run well. However, most people don’t necessarily consider that to be sufficient enough …. they simply want the latest phone, or they’ve damaged their old phone (happens to all smart phones), so your assumptions ignore a whole bunch of other factors ….. that doesn’t surprise me 🙂

      • Domino67

        False, there is no proof that iphone users have higher salaries or education.

      • Meill

        Incorrect.

        CIRP reports that 17% of iOS users have Masters degrees or greater compared to only 7% of Android users. Also, 48% of iOS users have a bachelor’s degree or greater compared to only 32% of Android owners.

        This correlates with Neilsen’s findings that 40% of iOS users have incomes above 100,000 dollars versus only 25% of Android users, while double the percentage of Android users have incomes below 25,000 dollars. Likewise, CIRP report that twice as many iPhone users have incomes above 150,000 dollars as Samsung users and 45% of Samsung owners have incomes below 50,000 dollars versus only 32% of iPhone owners.

        Likewise ComScore reports that “The median iPhone app user earns $85,000 per year, which is 40 percent more than the median Android phone user with an annual income of $61,000, comScore’s “U.S. Mobile App Report,” study reports. On average, iPhone users engage with their smartphone apps for nine more hours in a given month than Android users.”

      • Domino67

        CIRP report was based on sales by state and education…..CIRP drew a line between the two with out factual evidence.

      • Meill

        No, you’re thinking of the Chitika study which also incidentally agreed with Neilson, CIRP and ComScore:

        “A new study conducted by online advertising network Chitika found that states with more college graduates tend to also have higher iPhone sales,” Goldman reports. “Alaska (66%), Montana and Vermont have the largest percentage of iPhone users. New Mexico (41%), Iowa and Delaware have the lowest share of iPhone sales per capita.”

        Yet another study that also agrees with all these data points is from CiviScience:

        “Highest level of education attained? iPhone people are more educated: they over-weight +27% for graduate/PhD education and under-weight -33% for high school education. Android people show the same pattern to a much smaller degree: +8% for graduate/PhD, -12% for high school.”

        * Household income? iPhone people are more affluent: they over-weight +11% for >$75,000(3), +30% for >$100,000(3) and +48% for >$125,000(3). Android people are much less affluent but still have above average means: they over-weight for income categories above $50,000 but to a much smaller degree: +4% to +14%.

        This isn’t rocket science considering the ASP for Android phones is $230 compared to $640 for iPhones – it is just common sense that people on lower incomes (which correlates to lower education levels) will gravitate to the cheapest phones.

      • Domino67

        You are not comparing the same thing.

        While Android has 85% to 13.5% iOS marketshare there is a vastly different and broader market demographic with Android.

        Why not compare Android flagships to iOS flagship….As a good portion of Apple sales are past models they could be considered “poor man” phones. The ASP is a bit of a misnomer because there are not that many people who ACTUALLY pay out of pocket for a new phone. Most people get them subsidized by 300, 400 or 500 dollars. The ASP for iphones by the way has dropped to 595 from a high of 693 just 6 months ago.

        Also as you know Samsung now sell more flagship phones than Apple. While also selling 2X as many phones which will not all be Galaxy S7/edge and will put downward pressure on ASP…but that does not negate the fact the the S7 is just as pricey as an iphone 6s.

      • Meill

        The CIRP and Neilsen studies were done in the USA where Apple has 43% marketshare vs Android on 50%.

        That means out of every 100 people who purchased a smartphone, 43 bought an iPhone vs 50 who bought an Android.

        For every 100 people:

        Masters degree or higher:
        17% of 43 iPhone purchasers = 7.3 people
        7% of 50 Android purchasers = 3.5 people

        Bachelor’s degree or greater:
        48% of 43 iPhone purchasers = 20 people
        32% of 50 Android purchasers = 16 people

        Incomes above 100,000 dollars:
        40% of 43 iPhone purchasers = 17.2 people
        25% of 50 Android purchasers = 12.5 people

        So that means iOS users as a percentage AND also in raw numbers significantly outnumber Android users in terms of education and income. The Chitika and ComScore studies also point to this being the case.

        Now the question is, can we make any conclusions on a worldwide scale based on these two surveys?

        No doubt in countries with lower average incomes, the percentage of iPhone users with higher incomes and degrees would be even more skewed as fewer of the population will be able to afford an iPhone, but that’s about all we could really say from those surveys.

        However, that Nanigans study is a worldwide study of 200 Billion FaceBook ads so that indicates that iOS users generating 1,790% greater advertising return on investment than Android users is a global phenomenon.

        With Android users actually COSTING RETAILERS MORE THAN THEY GENERATE according to Nanigans, in this case higher market share for Android is actually a liability for advertisers.

        The fact that Google makes 75% of its mobile search revenue from the iOS platform confirms this HUGE disparity.

      • Shawn Dehkhodaei

        People who are married to a narrative, don’t like facts …. stop wasting your breath and bandwidth …. he will NEVER be convinced.

      • Meill

        If you compare premium Android phones to premium Phones, you still see Apple dominance of the high-end customer:

        Creative Strategies reports that 190m premium Android phones worth $500 or more were sold in 2015 – that’s only 17% of all Android phones sold last year.

        Likewise, Counterpoint Research reports that 60% of the phones $400 or greater sold last year were iPhones meaning only around 154M Android phones were $400 or greater.

        Compare this to the 230 million iPhones sold last year and you can see Apple dominates the high end of the market no matter which way you try to slice the data.

      • Domino67

        Apple sell about 200 million for arguments sake. Last quarter 18% of the 40million sold were the SE and rumour is that the 6/6 plus actually outsold the 6S/6S plus.

        So where is the large iphone flagship sales? (for the record not every iphone is a flagship only the 6s/6s plus is)

        As I mentioned before the S7/edge are outselling the 6s/6s plus. Samsung have a 37% market share in USA while iphone is at 29%

        Apples market share is dropping EVERYWHERE except Japan.

      • Meill

        Apple sold 231.3 million iPhones last year.

        Of course iPhone market share is dropping at the moment – it is a model “S” year and the lull before the next iPhone model launch.

        The iPhone SE is a $400 premium phone – it has the internals of the iPhone 6S.

        The S7/edge is only reported to be outselling the 6s/6s+ in the USA but that does not count the 6 and 6+ or the SE which are all also premium phones. Also, your data is for the launch quarter of the Galaxy S7 while the iPhone 6s is a 6 month old phone in a lull waiting for the iPhone 7 launch.

        Your data is too constrained to have any broad meaning.

      • Domino67

        “Of course iPhone market share is dropping at the moment – it is a model “S” year and the lull before the next iPhone model launch.”

        The “S” models have ALWAYS outsold the prior model….except with the 6S so don’t give me that crap about it being an S year.

        Not certain how you justify a nearly 1 year old internals in the SE as premium but hey if it helps make your argument about how glorious Apple is then god bless you.

        They are plenty of ANdroid phones that are built every bit as well as an iphone and now because of competition are selling for less than $400. That s why the iphone’s best days are quite probably behind it.

      • Meill

        The model S year has always been less of a jump and because of the “mother-of-all-compares” last year with Apple finally making the jump to big screens, the dip is lower this year. If you plot a sales curve over the past 4-5 years however, you see the iPhone 6 was the outlier with the 6S coming back to the normal growth curve.

        >”Not certain how you justify a nearly 1 year old internals in the SE as premium”

        The iPhone SE has the same A9 SoC as the current flagship, the iPhone 6+. Of course it is premium hardware.

        Close to 1 Billion active iOS devices worldwide compared to Google’s 1.4 Billion active Android devices, sales of over a quarter of a Billion iOS devices every year, 64% – 72% Business market share and growing, 90% greater Dev revenue and growing, 1,790% greater Advertising profit, 400% greater e-commerce revenue than Android etc all says Apple’s iOS ecosystem is more than healthy enough to continue dominating all the metrics that matter for many years to come.

      • Domino67

        “Apple sold 231.3 million iPhones last year.”

        If you really want to get picky, I said for the sake of argument they sell 200 million a year.

        Fact is they ONLY did that once in their history and that was last year and will be lucky to get to 210 million this year.

      • Meill

        Apple’s iPhone sales each year have always been the highest they have ever been in history to that point.

        They might not match 231m this year, but It is hardly cause for concern.

        iPhone Sales:

        2007 = 3.8M
        2008 = 13.7M
        2009 = 25.1M
        2010 = 47.5M
        2011 = 93.1M
        2012 = 135.8M
        2013 = 153.4M
        2014 = 192.6M
        2015 = 231.3M

      • Shawn Dehkhodaei

        And you’re basing your assumption on what? Conjecture? They’ve had incremental growth since they started, so one would draw that conclusion, by extrapolation. But you’re free to make your own assumptions.

      • Domino67

        FFS…..they have sold 74,51 and 40 mm for a total of 165mm this year to date…..what do think they will sell in the July – September quarter?…..they sold 48mm last year and the last two months are down 18 and 15% YoY.

        Common sense says they will probably sell about 40mm again for a total of 205mm.

        So please show me where this incremental growth is???

        Seriously you iFans have a real hard time with facts.

      • Domino67

        “The S7/edge is only reported to be outselling the 6s/6s+ in the USA but that does not count the 6 and 6+ or the SE which are all also premium phones.”

        It also doesn’t include the Note5, Galaxy S6, S6 edge, S6 edge plus which are also premium phones…..so what’s your point? Just because it is only reported in the states does not mean that Apple is beating Samsung in other countries.

      • Meill

        My point is higher Galaxy S7 sales this quarter do not automatically mean the total number of premium Android phones sold this year will outnumber the total number of iPhones sold over that period.

      • Shawn Dehkhodaei

        It’s been reported by many surveys and “market analysts”, but there is no empirical proof; that’s correct. However, you can say that about Mercedes owners too …. it’s a tough thing to prove empirically, but certainly by common sense, it follows.

      • Domino67

        FFS…..when you have 85% of the market you are bound to have a much more diverse demographic.

        20% of the 1.2billion Android phones sold each year are high end models.

        80% of the 200 million iPhone models sold in a year are high end.

        They are more high end Android phones sold that iphones.

      • Kizedek

        When you have 85% of the market, you are bound to have a significant chunk of the profit in that market, right? I guess not.

        Sure, sales of high-end Android phones go up — when they have to offer BOGOF deals to shift them. Apple could play that game too, but doesn’t have to, because in its differentiation from all Android offerings, it is able to keep its ASP remarkably stable over time.

        Even when more absolute numbers of high-end Android phones of all types are sold (and the article is talking about individual lines of phones from individual OEMs, not all Android phones), Apple is yet making a significant chunk of ALL mobile profits against ALL Android OEMS put together, regardless of what types of phones they are producing, and the quantities they are selling them in.

        Regarding demographics: it seems such an overwhelming majority of iPhone users are willing to pay and remain loyal for something they believe they only get from the iPhone, that the ARPU and general value they represent as customers outweighs the significance of the 85% market share of Android.

      • Shawn Dehkhodaei

        Since you’d like to provide the Wiki page as a counter argument that Nokia sold more phones, then please tell us home many of those Nokia candy bar phones are in use today and how many “average” people bought them.

      • Shawn Dehkhodaei

        Batteries are replaced on iPhones all the time (I’ve replaced them at least twice when necessary), and I’ve dropped my iPhone “hundreds of times” and kept using it. While your argument is completely irrelevant and doesn’t even serve as a counter-example, it’s still doesn’t hold any water.

      • Shawn Dehkhodaei

        Oh … are you required to be rational? Hmmm ….. but can’t i pretend, just for a few minutes?

      • Shawn Dehkhodaei

        He’s saying exactly that …. he’s comparing an iPhone and a Toyota Corolla. In fact, most people “lease” a Toyota Corolla for 3 years, and then, they turn it in, for a new one …. very similar to an iPhone. And the Corolla has a useful life-span of 8-10 years (recent models, not the 1980’s versions), and the iPhone has a comparable lifespan (given the purchase price) of around 4-7 years. People don’t treat the iPhone like a consumable as in: Bottle of Coca Cola, or box of Kleenex, or even an ink toner cartridge. It’s a device that gets used to perform a task; just like a Corolla. Is that not coming across?

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

        It’s a consumable that is not comparable. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durable_good

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu
  • Mark Spencer

    and you are the worst data-science blogger of all times. yed

  • Reality Check

    Horace seems to have a WIDE OPEN calendar for speaking engagements… All you HR and Marketing event organizers get in line to book Horace NOW!

  • The Werewolf

    Actually, the most popular product of all time is water. Then grain. Then oil.

    How about air flights? Just under 3 *billion* this year. That’s three times the total number of iPhones sold. Or heck, PCs in general – 1.5 billion or more.

    If you slice data to match your expectations, you’ll always be pleasantly surprised.

    • Walt French

      Commodities, often coming out of the ground by their own accord, are products?

      Maybe you mean *bottled* water, or municipal-system piped water. You buy those. I’m a long-term customer of the latter.

    • handleym

      And exactly what do you learn from the claim that “water is the most popular product of all time” that you did not already know?

      Here’s a hint (to you and @lsoares13) — very few of the people visiting this site are interested in juvenile point-scoring ala middle-school debate team. We visit to learn something NEW about the world, not to learn that people drink water.

    • Luis Alejandro Masanti

      Once again, what the author said is ‘all about one product.’
      Also if United (or whatever) ‘flight’ a billion miles a year it would not be the same.

      Maybe you can compare ‘air miles’ with data transfers in the iPhones.

      • Tim Locke

        The IBM PC product: 4.5 billion units.
        The Android product: 3.5 to 4 billion units.

      • Meill

        They’re not single product lines from a single company. What’s so hard to comprehend about this?

      • art hackett

        IBM made 4.5 billion PCs? The Android Product? The Car Product?

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

        IBM did not sell that many PCs. Android is a license that is not sold but granted under certain conditions to device manufacturers. The total number of Android licenses must be in the thousands.

    • Kip Beatty

      Is it a dislike of Apple and iPhones that makes you unable to comprehend properly? Or do you simply choose not to?

      “Or heck, PCs in general -1.5 bilion or more.”
      “PCs in general”, really? An entirely product category against the iPhone. You’d have to compare against ALL “smart phones” if your doing an ENTIRE category of products. That’s not what he’s doing.

      Use some critical thinking. He lists the Volkswagen Beetle not “all cars ever sold.” He lists MJ’s “Thriller” not “all albums ever sold”. But hey, before you’ll acknowledge the iPhone as a staggering success, it needs to be compared against entire industries, rather than specific products within those industries.

      Airline tickets sold? LMFAO. I mean, why didn’t you just say “burgers sold”? Hell, that’s “billions and billions” from just Mcdonald’s alone.

      • Shawn Dehkhodaei

        Critical thinking is a very rare commodity on comment threads …. don’t take them too seriously 🙂

    • http://www.jphotog.com Hrunga Zmuda

      PCs? Strip all the junk out of that 1.5 billion, and Apple owns better than 80 percent of the market.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      You’re describing either consumables, commodities or services.

  • lsoares13
    • ImplyingFacts

      Uh. Selling the most units ever does make it the most popular product ever. Or, are you implying this article states the iPhone is the “best” thing ever? Because it doesn’t.

  • Michael Rogers

    Big fan of your work…thank you for sharing so much of your clear thinking with us all.

    In listening to your podcasts on cars, Tesla, Apple and technology in general, one thought occurs to me about equating “production methods” and “human interface”. It seems like these big shifts in production (Ford’s, Toyota’s, etc. possibly even the mini-mills, steam shovels, disk drives from Christensen’s work) are very similar to shifts in human interface (punch cards, keyboards, GUI-mouse, click-wheel, touch, etc.).

    Could this have a place in the innovators dilemma? To me, equating these two concepts (a new production method and a new human interface), brings clarity to the software industry in a different way.

    The requirement for technology as a core for disruption seems to need not only technology, but also a “new” interaction. Delivering or mastering the “new” interactions creates the shift.

    Thanks again!

  • antidaily

    I dunno. They sure sold a lot of Super Mario 3s. At least 2 billion.

  • Lampshade

    How many rolls of Charmin have been sold? The iPhone is likely not the most popular product that is routinely dropped into a toilet.

  • Beatrice

    So, If you include all version of the iPhone can you compare that to how Many Samsung Galaxy’s Models 1 through 7 with all variants have been sold? I would like to see a comparison for that.

    • Meill

      Samsung has sold significantly less Galaxy S models than Apple has sold iPhones. With an ASP of $225, most Samsung phones are cheap sub-$200 glorified featurephones.

      Remember, we’re talking one product line like the VW Beetle, not every product sold by VW like the Passat, the Golf the Combi etc.

    • pwinn

      Galaxy S: 25m
      Galaxy S2: 40m
      Galaxy S3: 60m
      Galaxy S4: 80m

      After that, it’s harder to find numbers for S5, S6, or S7 generations. S5 seems to have been lower, possibly 40-50m, while S6 recovered very strongly, possibly 60-70m.

      I found the least amount of information on the S7, and Samsung tends to be quite mum on the topic. If we assume best-possible numbers for the S5 (50m) and S6 (70m), that gets us to 325m. The S7 is so new that if it matches their previous best-selling phone, that only gets us to around 355 million at this point.

      If you start including Samsung’s non-Galaxy phones, obviously those sell a lot of units all combined, usually at extremely low prices (Samsung’s overall phone ASP: $225, compared to iPhone’s $691). But for the Galaxy series, they’re not moving nearly as many units.

  • 3Dgerbil

    One big item missing: Sony Walkman ! It also sold a few hundreds of millions…

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      385 million sold (up to 2009 when the analog player was mostly terminated.)

  • Space Gorilla

    I’m a bit surprised at how many commenters don’t seem to understand the difference between consumables, commodities, a product category, and a single product line.

    • Lampshade

      Are you referring to the number of commenters who don’t realize that the iPhone is a consumable?

      • Space Gorilla

        I suppose I should have added to my list: People who don’t understand the difference between a product with a lifespan of a few years and a consumable (Coke, Big Mac, matches, etc).

      • Lampshade

        The way this list is presented encourages this thinking. There are items from completely uncomparible categories being compared. The Beetle and Corolla are the closest two items in the list, and are both overwhelmingly different products than cell phones. An iPhone and a Big Mac are much closer in usage profiles than either are to a Corolla. Interestingly, one commenter pointed to the list of best selling phones. That list differentiates between models within a product line. Because Apple doesn’t release granular sales data, the best selling iPhone is actually the combination of both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Between the two, there were only 100 million in sales. Only? Well, there are 11 phone models that outsold the combination of the 6 and 6 Plus. It tuns out that 9 of the 11 best selling phones of all time are Nokia models, most of which were near clones of each other (closer to each other than the iPhone models are to each other), and those clones combine for several billion in sales–and that just the models which made the list of top 60! Of the 13 models of iPhone, only 8 even made the list of 60 top selling phones.

      • Space Gorilla

        I take it your point is that Horace is making an unfair comparison? If you’ve read Asymco for any length of time you should know that unfair comparisons are a good way to learn new things. But instead of learning anything new you’re simply the kid on the playground stomping their feet and yelling “No fair!” Of course you are free to do that if you like.

      • Lampshade

        I suppose I’m only helping those who already have doubt know that they aren’t alone in thinking that they somehow stumbled upon a complete piece of crap posing as an article. That’s it.

        I could make a list like this that shows that everyone loves the taste of rotten meat, but just fail to show that their only alternative was being slowly hacked to death with a dull rusty hatchet. That would be extreme and stupid, but still probably better than this steaming pile you keep attempting to defend. I could point out what that says about you, but everyone reading what you write has already figured that out on their own, and you will undoubtedly reject the notion outright.

      • Space Gorilla

        You are correct that some unfair comparisons are simply meaningless drivel. But some unfair comparisons help us understand and analyze. I invite you to read much more of Asymco, there’s a lot of really great analysis here.

        Horace does often touch on the reality of Apple’s success, since he’s trying to understand it. You seem very upset by Apple’s success, just as many others are. I find that fascinating, why the success of a single corporation bothers so many people to such a degree.

  • Wes Royer

    What is the different between Car Model and Car Brand when you listed a model (Beetle v Corolla) for both. Wouldn’t Brand be just Toyota?

    • Lampshade

      There’s no real logic to that chart. You’re right, both of those examples list a car model (sans year), and are otherwise identical for comparison purposes. It doesn’t make any sense to compare either to an iPhone or a book, or a puzzle game.

    • Raphael Tongoona

      Some argue that Corollas are so different (different platform) that Toyota is essentially putting that well trusted name on different cars.

  • sz1

    iPhone has many models like others (brand iPhone / model 4S; brand Nokia / model 1100). You cannot combine them to one.

    Here is the real list of most sold phones.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_mobile_phones

    • Lampshade

      That list is extremely informative, and in obvious ways! Apple has called every one of its 13 phone models an iPhone. Only when the sales of all 13 models are added up can the number top 1 billion.

      Interestingly, that list of top selling phone models is only the top 60 best selling phones of all time. Of the 13 models of iPhone (original, 3G, 3GS, 4, 4S, 5, 5C, 5S, 6, 6 Plus, 6S, 6S Plus, SE), only 8 Make the list of the top 60, and the top selling iPhone is actually the combined sales of the 6 and 6 Plus. On the other hand, Nokia occupies 21 of the top 60 best selling phone slots, and accounts for over 1.1 billion phones sold from just their top 6 Models, 5 of which (0.96 billion) were nearly identical “candybar” models. If sold using Apple’s naming scheme, these would have been different releases of the same model, as would over a billion more. That is, if you combine the total number of Nokia candybar phone sales, you find a number that far exceeds 2 billion!

      Horace, sz1 found your real revolutionary phone device, and it’s the lowly Nokia candybar phone. The iPhone likely won’t top Nokia’s sales records for another decade at least.

  • Chris L

    This is clearly a significant achievement. But I don’t buy the idea that this is the best selling product of all time. I can’t believe that the iPhone has outsold cans of Coca Cola for example. Or bottles of Heineken.

    • Lampshade

      Or even other phones!

      • katherine anderson

        That’s right Lampshade, Horace is off on the numbers, he’s off by more than 6 Billion iPhones Sold …. and counting …

        As berult points out in his post above, the iPhone, and the copycat handsets that Apple has enabled … through the forces the evolutionary iPhone has unleashed … they are all iPhones, whether or not they are “presented” under brand names like Samsung, or other “competing entities”.

      • Sean F

        Apple didn’t create the smartphone. All smartphones are copycats of, or evolutionary from, the Palm Treo line.

    • deasys

      …or paper clips. Yeah, there have been lots more paper clips sold than iPhones!

      /s

    • http://fakeapple.com Fake Tim Cook

      Slices of bread!

    • Shawn Dehkhodaei

      I suppose it depends on how you define “product”. I would assume at the very least, that it’s not a consumable (Coke and Ketchup are consumables), and it’s not disposable (i.e Kleenex, tissue, etc.). A product is something that you purchase and use over and over again (life permitting). so in all the categories that he’s used to illustrate the example, it fits well. So context is important, and so is the definition. I don’t think most people would call Coca Cola or Heineken a “product”. Do you?

      • Chris L

        Yes.

  • berult

    Steve Jobs mandated the iPhone to essentially give the time of day. Literally, and figuratively. Sequentially, and cumulatively.

    For Jobs, for the iPhone, “all time” expresses itself both as a series and as a concurrency. Just as light radiantly expresses itself both as a discrete entity and as a wave function.

    The author postulates “all time” to be the metric of concurrency. All time = consciousness incarnate = subjected object => iPhone as the product of timely appropriateness. At a very profound level, at the level of Steve Jobs’ subconscious apprehensions, the iPhone is indeed the most popular product ever. It is one of those rare spin-off products of evolution that were miraculously conceived to self-reflect on the timelessness dimension of time itself, within the ticking of a soul’s clock.

    The iPhone sells evolutionary units of evolution, be they ‘presented’ under a different brand name, be they ‘future-proofed’ within the ledger of seemingly competing entities. And seven billion plus people’s mind…and counting…levitate amok under a Jobsian spell for the ages. berult.

    • deasys

      You may want to lay off the weed a little, berult…

    • Sacto_Joe

      Amen, berult! And the levitation is just getting started. Hmm. Would you call the joy that comes from levitation levity?

  • hannahjs

    Hotace, you are the very model of restraint. Another writer would be keen on expanding the enabler premise in any number of directions. But you economise in words… Simple. Present a suggestive list, pen a few lines, and Lo, commenters take over with a forest of quibbles.

  • http://fakeapple.com Fake Tim Cook

    Air is the most popular product of all time.
    Produced by plants!
    Have you heard of them?
    Nitrogen is the most popular product line…78% of all air.

    Come on Horace. Stop comparing Apples and Orangutans.