Apple says it sold more than a million units of its latest iPhone model in the first three days, making it the most successful debut for a smartphone yet.
The iPhone 3G S went on sale Friday in the U.S. and seven other countries.
When Apple launched the previous model last year, it also sold 1 million units in the first three days, but that model launched simultaneously in 22 countries.
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster had expected the Cupertino, Calif., company to sell half a million 3G S in the first three days.
"Customers are voting and the iPhone is winning," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. It was the first time he was quoted in a company statement since he went on leave for unspecified medical reasons in January. The company has said that Jobs, who has battled pancreatic cancer, is returning to work at the end of the month.
The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday that Jobs had a liver transplant two months ago in Tennessee and that he will likely work part-time, at least initially. Apple has not commented on the report.
The launch of the iPhone 3G last year turned messy, as Apple and phone company servers failed to cope with the load of new customers trying to activate their phones. That problem recurred Friday with the launch of the 3G S, but to a smaller extent. Some customers who tried to activate the phone at home got messages that the process could take 48 hours to complete.
Some customers got e-mails on Sunday promising a $30 credit at Apple's iTunes store as compensation for the hassle.
Apple did not break down where the million units were sold. Dallas-based AT&T is the iPhone's exclusive carrier in the United States and has said it sold hundreds of thousands of phones via pre-order.
In its two-year life, the iPhone has revolutionized phone design and given AT&T a leg up on its rivals in recruiting customers willing to pay high monthly fees.
Competitors have started to catch up to some of the iPhone's signature features. In particular, the newly released Palm Pre, available exclusively for now through Sprint Nextel, has generated a lot of buzz and favorable reviews. But the iPhone is still the king of smartphones.
For new customers signing a two-year contract with AT&T, the 3G S costs $199 or $299 depending on the memory capacity. Compared to the 3G, it has a faster processor and an upgraded camera.
Owners of the previous model, the iPhone 3G, will have to pay more than that. Most of them are not eligible for the new-customer pricing because AT&T subsidizes the cost of the phone and requires customers to "pay off" the subsidy through their monthly service fees before it will subsidize a new phone.