iPhone 4S sales top 4 million, a new record for Apple

The iPhone 4S sales have been exceptionally strong, Apple announced Monday.

The Apple iPhone 4S has launched to blockbuster sales. Here, customers line up outside an Apple store in London Friday.

On Friday, Apple officially launched the iPhone 4S – a smartphone with the same general contours of the iPhone 4, and a whole lot of internal improvements, to boot, including better processing power and a voice-powered personal assistant named Siri. Early reviews have been predictably ecstatic. ("If [the iPhone 4S] were a car, it would be a Mercedes," wrote one reviewer.)

And early sales are reportedly through the roof. In a press statement released Monday, Apple said it had sold more than 4 million iPhone 4S handsets within three days of the Oct. 14 launch. Meanwhile, 25 million customers are now using iOS 5 – an operating system that ships on the iPhone 4S, and is available for download on previous model iPhone devices. Also, 20 million people have signed up for iCloud, a new cloud platform developed by Apple.

As Stan Schroeder of Mashable notes, the sales number represents a new landmark for Apple. "It took three weeks for Apple to sell 3 million iPhone 4 units, and it took 74 days to sell the first million units of the original iPhone," Mr. Schroeder writes. Apple has, of course, increased its share of the market in the time since the original iPhone appeared, and currently jostles with Android for top spot in the smartphone race.

In related news, early reports indicate that Apple is beginning production on the iPad 3, the next iteration of the popular tablet computer. According to Susquehanna Financial analyst Jeff Fidacaro, who spoke this week to All Things D, Apple recently increased iPad supply orders from between 11 million and 13 million to between 12 and 14 million. That spike, Mr. Fidacaro believes, is driven in part by the new iPad. More here.

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