Apple sold enough iPhones to reach the center of the Earth

Bradley Wint
Sep 26, 2016 3:20am AST
Photo: Apple

The Apple iPhone has had a long history over the past 10+ years, and in this post we wrap up 5 interesting facts about it.

Apple sold 1 billion+ iPhones, enough to easily reach the center of the Earth if stacked together

Using an average thickness of about 7.5mm across the iPhone line, you could easily stack the 1 billion+ units sold worldwide and reach the center of the Earth with many to spare.

Using the equatorial radius of 6,371 km (3,959 miles), the combined total results in a stack of just about 1.2x that length. Of course with the release of the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, that figure will slowly increase.

The ‘iPhone’ brand originally belonged to Cisco


Back when the first iPhone was launched, the iPhone and iOS brands were not exactly a unique Apple idea, as the trademark belonged to Cisco Systems many years before.

Steve Jobs had asked that the company give up the name (for nothing in return) on the basis that they were not competing in the same industry and on the grounds that Cisco did not properly put up a fight for the two trademarks. Cisco refused and threatened litigation if Apple ignored their request to respect the patent. Apple still went ahead to announce its product using the ‘iPhone’ name, resulting in Cisco filing a lawsuit the day after.

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Using his negotiating skills, Jobs was able to force the hand of Charles Giancarlo, a Cisco executive at the time. Here is an excerpt of what took place, as detailed in Adam Lashinsky’s book, Inside Apple.

Giancarlo fielded a call directly from Steve Jobs. “Steve called in and said that he wanted it,” Giancarlo recalled. “He didn’t offer us anything for it. It was just like a promise he’d be our best friend. And we said, ‘No, we’re planning on using it.’ ” Shortly after that, Apple’s legal department called to say they thought Cisco had “abandoned the brand,” meaning that in Apple’s legal opinion Cisco hadn’t adequately defended its intellectual property rights by promoting the name. To Apple’s way of thinking this meant the name iPhone was available for Apple’s use. Giancarlo, who subsequently joined the prominent Silicon Valley private-equity firm Silver Lake Partners, said Cisco threatened litigation before the launch. Then, the day after Apple announced its iPhone, Cisco filed suit.

The negotiation displayed some classic Steve Jobs negotiating tactics. Giancarlo said Jobs called him at home at dinnertime on Valentine’s Day, as the two sides were haggling. Jobs talked for a while, Giancarlo related. “And then he said to me, ‘Can you get email at home?’ ” Giancarlo was taken aback. This was 2007, after all, when broadband Internet was ubiquitous in homes in the US, let alone that of a Silicon Valley executive who had worked for years on advanced Internet technology. “And he’s asking me if I’m able to get email at home. You know he’s just trying to press my buttons—in the nicest possible way.” Cisco gave up the fight shortly after that. The two sides reached a vague agreement to cooperate on areas of mutual interest.

Some Apple processor chips were made by Samsung


While Apple and Samsung may be bitter rivals in the mobile market, that did not stop them from being business partners when it came to the manufacturing of its processing chips.

So why was Samsung producing chips for its competitor? Money.

Samsung Electronics only earned about 32.4% of its total profit via its mobile division last year, with the remaining share coming from its Device Solutions group, the company responsible for manufacturing of chips and other semiconductors.

On the surface, iPhone fanboys may love bashing Samsung products, but many Apple devices have Samsung-manufactured chips under the hood.

Unfortunately for Samsung, Apple has chosen to ditch them in favour of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) for the production of the A10 processor, after TSMC delivered a much more efficient product.

This also earned them the rights to the development of the A11, according to recent reports.



Have you ever wondered why iPhone adverts always feature the time as being 9:41AM? Back in the simpler days, Steve Jobs calculated his presentations so that the build up to the iPhone would have taken 40 minutes. As things don’t always run as planned, they used 9:41AM instead (sometimes 9:42AM).

In recent times however, with the introduction of other products, the timing hasn’t always been on point, with this year’s iPhone 7 announcement being no exception.

However the iPhone 7 also featured a 9:41AM time stamp, so maybe it’s now part of tradition rather than calculation.

iPhone retina display costs a lot


The retina display, which makes texts and images appear extremely clean and crisp, costs around 1/5th of the entire phone’s manufacturing cost.

For instance, on the iPhone 6, the costs around $200 to manufacture, $45 of which goes towards the retina display alone.

However, iPhones have extremely high mark up values, and even when factoring in costs like research and development, paying employees and other overheads, among the many other business costs, Apple still makes a pretty hefty net profit of around 30-40% on each phone sold.

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