There's a long-running joke that Apple's fans would buy anything the company sold, no matter the quality. But this past weekend, the joke became reality when the Cupertino consumer electronics giant sold 4 million units of a smartphone, the iPhone 4S, that even its most charitable supporters have described as an evolutionary update over its predecessor.

"iPhone 4S is off to a great start with more than four million sold in its first weekend—the most ever for a phone and more than double the iPhone 4 launch during its first three days," said Apple Senior Vice President Philip Schiller in a prepared statement. "iPhone 4S is a hit with customers around the world, and together with iOS 5 and iCloud, is the best iPhone ever."

Schiller's comments are apt, as the iPhone 4S's hardware appears to be nothing special: It features exactly the same form factor as its buggy predecessor, the iPhone 4S, with the same small screen and an updated version of its Apple-designed CPU. But the iPhone 4S is bolstered by a positively excellent collection of software, including the mature and capable iOS 5, the excellent Siri voice control solution, and the useful iCloud cloud computing services.

Of course, Apple's fans are more interested in spending money than they are with facts. The company has long enjoyed a stellar relationship with its users, most of whom are repeat buyers of multiple Apple products. And with the company enjoying richly deserved successes in several markets—MP3 players (iPods), phones (iPhone), tablet computing devices (iPad), and personal computing (Mac)—there's no reason to think Apple's momentum is going to slow anytime soon. That the lackluster iPhone 4S can sell so well in a market dominated by more capable Android handsets (not to mention Windows Phones) only bolsters that notion.

Apple announced separately that more than 20 million consumers have signed up for iCloud, its replacement for the ill-fated Mobile Me services. Like Mobile Me, iCloud offers cloud-based email, contacts, and calendar management, but it also provides numerous other useful services, such as device-to-device content sync, cloud-based device backup, app integration, iTunes Store purchase history, and more.

My review of iOS 5 is currently available on the SuperSite for Windows. I'll be writing more about the iPhone 4S and iCloud in the days ahead.