Apple announced Monday that it sold 9 million iPhone 5C and 5S smartphones in their first three days of availability—a new record. Of course, Apple routinely sees big boosts each time it launches new device. The problem is that it releases a new iPhone only once a year.

"This is our best iPhone launch yet―more than 9 million new iPhones sold―a new record for first-weekend sales," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a prepared statement. "The demand for the new iPhones has been incredible, and while we’ve sold out of our initial supply of iPhone 5S, stores continue to receive new iPhone shipments regularly. We appreciate everyone's patience and are working hard to build enough new iPhones for everyone."

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Apple's record weekend of sales was accomplished with the help of two major changes: The firm offered two new iPhone models simultaneously for the first time ever, giving consumers a choice between a cheaper plastic device with innards that are identical to last year's iPhone 5 and a more expensive model with an exterior that is basically identical to last year's iPhone 5. And these devices launched at the same time in more markets than ever before, including China, which is the biggest smartphone market in the world.

The slogging sameness of these devices, which offer only evolutionary changes over the phones Apple sold previously, didn't dampen consumer interest. Long lines formed at Apple stores on Friday as customers waited to purchase the iPhone 5S, especially, which Apple telegraphed would be in short supply.

To put the 9 million number in perspective, consider this: Nokia sold 7.4 million Lumia smartphones in the second quarter of 2013, and that quarter represented a high-water mark for those devices so far. Apple just sold more smartphones in three days than Nokia did in an entire quarter.

Apple also announced that more than 200 million iOS devices—iPhones, iPod touches, and iPads—were upgraded to the latest software version, iOS 7, in its first five days of availability, making it "the fastest software upgrade in history." Despite the hyperbole, this is a fairly significant milestone: As of last month, there were about 110 million Windows 8 users worldwide, and it took Microsoft 10 months to achieve that level of usage. Granted, iOS and Windows 8 aren't directly comparable. But trust me: You don't want to see a similar comparison to Windows Phone.

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