Special Report

The Best-Selling Products of All Time

6. Mario Bros. Franchise
> Category: Video game franchise
> Total sales: 262 million units
> Parent company: Nintendo

Since debuting in 1981 in the popular Donkey Kong arcade game, the Italian plumbers have appeared in 115 titles and in their own cartoon series. According to the company, as of 2011 more than 262 million units of “core” Mario Bros. games have been sold worldwide. Mario originally was known as Jumpman in a Japanese arcade game before being converted into a plumber in the U.S. In 2011, the Guinness Book of World Records named the original Mario the top video game character of all time as voted-on by more than 13,000 readers.


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7. Michael Jackson’s Thriller
> Category: Album
> Total sales: 70 million units
> Parent company: Epic records

Michael Jackson’s Thriller is not only the best-selling album of all time, but is also credited with ushering in the MTV generation, bringing the moonwalk into mainstream culture, and giving Jackson the moniker “The King of Pop.” According to michaeljackson.com, a website run by Sony Music and owned by the Michael Jackson record label, 70 million copies of the album have been sold since its release in 1982, although various sources have estimated that as many as 110 million copies have been sold. The album featured hits: “Beat It” and “Billie Jean,” and “Thriller.” Perhaps what made the album most famous was the 14-minute long “Thriller” movie/music video. The Thriller album also sold 101,000 copies the week after Jackson’s death in 2009, and downloads of Jackson’s songs totaled 2.3 million.

8. Harry Potter
> Category: Book
> Total sales: 450 million units
> Parent company: Scholastic (U.S. publisher)

Roughly 450 million Harry Potter Books had been sold in 73 different languages as of mid-2013, making it the best-selling book series of all time. The books has also made author J.K. Rowling the highest-paid author in the world. In 2007, Harry Potter’s U.S. publisher Scholastic sold 8.3 million copies of the final book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” in the first 24 hours. The book series inspired eight movies between 2001 and 2011 that, combined, grossed $7.7 billion worldwide. In 2012, Rowling launched Pottermore.com, a site that offers new Harry Potter content and interactive experiences. The site reportedly had 1 billion viewers in the first two weeks it went live.

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9. iPhone
> Category: Smartphone
> Total sales: 516 million units
> Parent company: Apple

Apple took the smartphone market by a storm when it launched the iPhone in 2007. Despite suggestions from some analysts that the iPhone’s market share has peaked, unit sales remain massive. In its fiscal first and second quarter, the company sold nearly 95 million iPhones, and sales this year are poised to exceed the 150 million mark set in 2013. With the exception of a brief period in 2012, Apple’s iPhone has been the best-selling smartphone since its inception. According to Counterpoint Technology Research, the iPhone 5S and 5C were the two top-selling smartphones in February, while the Samsung Galaxy S4 was a distant third.

10. Rubik’s Cube
> Category: Toy
> Total sales: 350 million units
> Parent company: Seven Towns Ltd.

The Rubik’s Cube remains the top selling single toy of all time with 350 million sold since 1980. The Rubik’s Cube remains so popular that in the decades since its creation, it has spawned entire speedcubing competitions. The toy still has a large fan base, among young and old. One developer even created an iPhone application that instructs users how to solve a Rubik’s Cube in 20 moves. Unlike other best-selling toys, such as Monopoly and the Gumby Doll, the cube was not originally intended to be a toy. Its inventor, Hungarian architecture professor Erno Rubik, created it in 1974 as a way to teach his students three-dimensional geometry. The combined collections of Mattel’s Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels have both outsold the Rubik’s Cube, but none of them have as a single toy.

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