It’s 10,000AD and alien archaeologists are excavating an obscure asteroid once called “Earth”. Suddenly, one of them lets out a shout from its third mouth: “I think I’ve found something Dave!”
Dave shuffles over on his six legs (you get the idea) and peers into the hole. “Nah, it’s just another bloody iPhone,” he says with a sigh. “Chuck it on the pile with the rest.”
As that totally believable example from the distant future shows, iPhones are a fundamental part of life in the early 21st century. They’re everywhere: from the pub to primary schools. But how many has Apple actually sold over the years?
The answer, as you might expect, is quite a few. The graph below, from the usually reliable website Statista, breaks down iPhone sales by year:
By my reckoning, that adds up to 1,250,420,000, or just over 1.25 billion iPhones sold between 2007 and 2017.
However, it’s difficult to truly grasp a number that big so, this being The Big Tech Question, I decided to put my solid B in GCSE Maths to the test and offer up a few bitesize comparisons.
Disappointingly, if you stacked 1.25 billion iPhones end to end (using the average size of 5.15in), they wouldn’t reach the moon – far from it. But, not all hope is lost: you could still circumnavigate the globe over four times if you laid them down in a straight line.
Alternatively, you could build an iPhone bridge from London to Sydney nine times – which might be easier than negotiating British Airways’ website.
Still not impressed? Well, the combined weight of 1.25 billion iPhones (187,563,000kg, if you’re interested) is roughly equivalent to 34,459 African elephants or 5.5 billion Creme Eggs – just under half of what I get through every Easter.
Probably the most startling statistic, though, is what those sales equate to in cold hard cash.
If you multiply the average starting price of an iPhone by 1.25 billion, you get… just under the GDP of Belgium, according to IMF estimates for 2017. Heck, with that $488 billion, you could even afford Elon Musk’s annual bonus.
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