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iPhone 4 sets sales record of 1.7 million ; 'Most successful' debut for an Apple product

Apple Inc. sold 1.7 million iPhone 4s in its first three days, a record for the newest iteration of its top-selling product featuring video calling and an updated body.

The iPhone 4 made its debut Thursday in the United States, Britain, Japan, France and Germany. Many stores, including retailer Best Buy Co., sold out of the product. The previous 3GS model sold 1 million during its first weekend.

Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs heralded the iPhone 4 with new features such as high-definition video camera, a sharper screen and multitasking that allows the use of several programs at once. Apple is competing against Research In Motion's BlackBerry and phones made by companies such as HTC Corp. that use Google's Android operating system.

"This is the most successful product launch in Apple's history," Jobs said in a statement.

Apple had a difficult time getting enough touch screens to meet demand for the device, said Ashok Kumar, an analyst at Rodman & Renshaw in New York, so the early sales figures may not be an accurate reflection of demand.

"It's too early to say if this is negative," Kumar said. While Apple has some production constraints, the company "has a captive audience," he said. "Demand for the iPhone 4 is not yet satiated, so it just gets pushed out into subsequent quarters."

Apple stock rose by $1.60 to $268.30 on Monday in Nasdaq trading. The shares have risen by 27 percent this year.

The iPhone sales results follow Apple's statement last week that it sold more than 3 million units of its iPad tablet computing device in the first 80 days.

With the iPad, introduced April 3, and the 3-year-old iPhone, Apple has widened its business beyond the Macintosh computer and iPod media player. Sales of the iPhone accounted for 40 percent of revenue in the last quarter.

Apple's share price has more than doubled since the original iPhone's release June 29, 2007. Measured by market value, Apple is now the world's largest technology company.

Some iPhone 4 customers reported trouble with the new antenna design. The phone signal drops when users cover the bottom left corner of the device with their palm. Apple advised holding the phone differently or using a case to solve the problem.

Customers in the five countries began lining up days in advance to buy the device. Users have access to more than 225,000 applications for playing games, listening to music or finding a nearby restaurant.

Apple said the iPhone will be available in 88 countries by the end of September.

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