Some products sell well when first introduced. Many more fail miserably.Very few of them sell so well that they fundamentally impact American culture. This is 24/7 Wall St.’s list of 10 products that did just that.
See which products made the list >
Besides selling in droves, many of the products on this list changed American culture. While each product is in a different industry — from smartphones, to video game consoles and music albums — there are clear similarities among the leaders.
All the products that made the list were innovative in their respective categories when released. Before Star Wars, people never camped out in front of the theatre to see the midnight debut. Harry Potter was the first major fantasy book series particularly geared toward tween readers.
Many of the best-selling products were successful because they were a franchise. Though both were instantaneous successes, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) continues to release new versions of the iPad and iPhone. The 11th generation of the Toyota (NYSE: TM) Corolla, another best-selling product, hit the markets just this May. The Mario franchise has turned into 31 titles.
Most of the products on our list — although not all — have reached a wide demographic. The Rubik’s Cube could be purchased and played by anyone. Harry Potter, while initially geared toward a tween audience, was eventually enjoyed by people of all ages. Even the iPad, while generally considered a luxury item, has multiple features and price points.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed product categories that generate attention from many groups and command significant and frequently long-lasting loyalty. We then identified individual products that had the highest sales in their category. Toys, consumer electronics, books and movies can be passing interests. However, the most successful of these are the best-selling products of all time.
These are the best-selling products of all time.
> Category: Smartphone
> Units sold/sales: 250 million units
> Parent Company: Apple
In just five years, 250 million iPhones have been shipped, making it the top-selling smartphone to date. Apple's iPhone is typically the top seller for Verizon (NYSE: VZ), AT&T (NYSE: T) and Sprint (NYSE: S). Research firm Strategy Analytics estimates that the iPhone has generated about $150 billion in revenue for Apple since its introduction to the market in June 2007. There are five generations of the iPhone: the original, 3G, 3GS, 4 and 4S, and more likely ahead. With newer generations often more popular than previous ones, Apple's iPhone sales are likely to continue to grow at a healthy pace.
> Category: Book series
> Units sold/sales: 450 million units
> Parent Company: Scholastic (U.S. publisher)
Scholastic Corporation (NASDAQ: SCHL) released the first Harry Potter book of the series in the United States in the 1990s, under the name Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The book was an instant success, only to be repeated with each successive instalment . Harry Potter became the top-selling series, with sales totalling $7.7 billion. The novels made J.K. Rowling one of the highest paid authors in the world and led to a similarly successful movie franchise. Recently, Rowling agreed to release e-book versions of the series, which grossed $1 million in three days. The final entry, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, is one of the fastest selling books of all time, with more than 11 million copies sold in the first 24 hours of its release.
> Category: Album
> Units sold/sales: 110 million units
> Parent Company: Epic Records
The 30th anniversary of Michael Jackson's Thriller release by Epic Records will be this November. One of the first albums to use music videos as a promotional tool, it reached its status as best-selling album of all-time in just over a year. Jackson won eight Grammy Awards in 1984 for Thriller, including Album of the Year. Seven of the songs on the album were Billboard top 10 hits. To put the King of Pop's album sales in perspective, Justin Bieber's My World (1 and 2) have collectively sold just 3.2 million.
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