Congrats, Apple, only three years behind Symbian to half a billion sales

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I was interested to see that Apple has now sold half a billion iPhones - a great achievement, though also an opportunity to remind people that the increasingly-forgotten Symbian platform reached half a billion back in 2011, almost three years ago. Of course, the two platforms are very different in scope and timescale/era, but you can't blame me for a retrospective link or two...

Here's the quote from MacRumours:

As documented in its quarterly earnings reports over the years, Apple reported total sales of 472 million iPhones between the device's 2007 launch and the end of 2013. With analyst estimates of over 38 million units for the current quarter ending in just a few days, the company has undoubtedly already sold its 500 millionth iPhone, a milestone that passed without mention from the Cupertino company...

And from my own editorial a couple of years ago:

Going back through the news archives and checking figures with industry watchers, according to our calculations, we passed the half billion sales point for Symbian last Autumn. With multiple manufacturers contributing to these figures over the years (albeit with Nokia dominating), and with some 'closed' Symbian-powered phones like the FOMA devices in Japan and the older Ericsson R380, the actual counting is obviously less clear cut, plus Symbian as an organisation no longer exists, which is perhaps why noone has yet remarked on the milestone.

But still. Half a billion Symbian smartphones.

Indeed. Do take the installed base and other numbers from that article in context though - that was over two years ago!

The two platforms are clearly comparable in terms of both numbers and significance in the mobile industry, albeit in slightly different eras, even though (usually American) revisionists often claim that Apple invented the smartphone. Such commentators would be astonished to see what some of us were doing with Nokia E90s and N95s (etc.) back in early 2007....

N95 and iPhone

Of course, the sheer passage of time means that perhaps 90% of that half billion Symbian devices are no longer in serious use around the world, but then I'd also argue that a good 10% of iPhones are also no longer in use (e.g. classics and 3Gs) - time waits for no man and devices become obsolete faster than ever these days.

PS. Along the same lines, even though far more Android devices have now been sold, my own experience tells me that the attrition rate is far higher in this world because of the savagely increasing demands on system disk space - you try configuring and using an Android phone from 2011 and see how far you get.... Maybe 20% of Android devices are now in drawers or landfill?

Source / Credit: MacRumours