After this weekend, I’m all out of reasons to refer to Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) as “Mac maker.” Long lines, ridiculous offers, and crazy promotions helped the iProducts producer -- see the switch there? -- execute its most successful debut to date: 1.7 million iPhone 4 handsets sold since Thursday, Apple announced this morning.
And that’s with widespread reports of reception issues caused by what some consider a design flaw. (Some users report that holding the handset a certain way, without a cover, interferes with the antenna.)
"This is the most successful product launch in Apple's history. Even so, we apologize to those customers who were turned away because we did not have enough supply,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs said in a press release.
Initial plans to accommodate walk-in customers at AT&T’s (NYSE: T ) stores, Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT ) , and electronics retailers Best Buy (NYSE: BBY ) and Radio Shack (NYSE: RSH ) proved to be more wishful thinking than reality. Hence Jobs’ apology; volume retailers are essential to Apple’s strategy of saturating the market.
But not much room. At 1.7 million handsets sold in four short supply-limited days, Apple has grown its worldwide iPhone installed base by 3.4%. (From 50 million to 51.7 million.) The iPad needed 80 days to reach 3 million sold.
Investors aren’t reacting much to this news as I write this, but they should be. My friend Erik Sherman over at BNET has it right: With these sorts of launches, Apple could soon be the biggest tech company both by market cap and revenue. That’s premium performance, and deserving of a premium stock price.
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