Apple has confirmed it has sold more than 10 million iPhones this year, hitting its target two months earlier than it hoped.

Ten million Apple iPhones was the company's 2008 goal. Despite the fact that Apple has only reported 9.3 million iPhone sales in its quarterly earnings statements since the beginning of the year, it still hit its target, as this doesn't account for the handsets sold since the start of its newest fiscal quarter. This began in October.

Apple reported sales of 6.9 million iPhone 3Gs for the most recent quarter, and has launched the Apple iPhone in 51 countries worldwide, now with over 30,000 points of distribution. By comparison, the original Apple iPhone, which was released in June, 2007 and sold until July, 2008, sold 6.1 million units during its entire run.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs and CFO Peter Oppenheimer confirmed that Apple sold more iPhones for its most recent quarter than Research In Motion (RIM), makers of the popular BlackBerry business handheld. RIM reported 6.1 million unit sales for its most recent quarter.

"Apple outsold RIM last quarter, and this is a milestone for us. RIM is a good company that makes good products, and so it is surprising that we could outsell them in any quarter after only 15 months in the market," said Jobs.

Jobs said that when measured by revenues, at $4.6bn (£2.8bn) in phone revenue Apple "has become the world's third-largest mobile phone supplier," after Nokia with $12.7bn (£7.7bn ) and Samsung at $5.9bn (£3.6bn), and ahead of Sony Ericsson, LG, Motorola and RIM.

"Pretty amazing," Jobs said. "Not bad for being in the market only 15 months."

See also: 200m downloads in Apple's App Store