1. Rubik’s Cube
> Category: Toy
> Units sold/sales: 350 million units
> Parent Company: Seven Towns Ltd.
Ernő Rubik created the first prototype of the “Magic Cube” in 1974 in Budapest, Hungary. An American toy manufacturer bought the product license and renamed it the Rubik’s Cube in 1980, making the puzzle an international sensation. At the height of the toy’s popularity in the mid-1980s, the company estimates that as much as one-fifth of the world’s population had tried solving the Rubik’s Cube. With its eye-catching colors, affordability and the puzzle’s level of difficulty, the Rubik’s Cube has maintained popularity over the years.
> 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.
3. Harry Potter
> 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 installment. 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.
4. Michael Jackson Thriller
> 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 ten 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.
5. Mario Franchise
> Category: Video game franchise
> Units sold/sales: 262 million units
> Parent Company: Nintendo
The character “Mario” debuted in 1981’s popular Donkey Kong franchise. Since then, the Italian plumber has appeared in dozens of titles, including at least 31 separate titles that have topped 1 million unit sales. One of the subfranchises, Super Mario, has alone sold more than 262 million units. While it is the most popular console video game franchise of all time, the Angry Birds mobile franchise, which creates phone and tablet application games, has recorded more than a billion downloads.