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First 3 days: New iPhone unit sales top 4 million

Apple sold more than 4 million units of the new iPhone 4S model in three days, a rate that's more than twice as fast as the previous model launched last year. By comparison, when Apple launched the iPhone 4 last year, it sold 1.7 million in the first three days.

It's always hard to read much into early data, but anecdotal evidence suggests that a fair number of iPhone 4S shoppers are dumping their old smartphones and moving to Apple. (See this Reuters piece on the topic.)

Apple and its phone company partners started selling the iPhone 4S on Friday in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and Britain. That's two more launch countries than last year. There are also more phone companies selling the phone. In the U.S., Sprint Nextel Corp. is the new carrier.

But the flip side of Apple's serendipity is the recent run of troubles plaguing Research in Motion, whose customers last week suffered through nearly three days of outages across the world. As ZDNet noted in a piece this morning, the service disruption damaged RIM's reputation with its most important audience: CTOs, CIOs and IT departments. In a research note, Jefferies analyst Peter Misek cautioned that the outage caused harm to the brand's image. "In our view," he wrote, "this opens the door to competitors as corporate CTOs and IT departments may now be more open to explore other options besides the BlackBerry standard."

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