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Monday, August 04, 2008, 07:00 am PT (10:00 am ET)

Apple already building iPhones at rate of 40 million a year?

Apple is reportedly testing the limits of its overseas manufacturing facilities in order to keep up with demand for the new iPhone 3G, with production already cranked nearly sevenfold compared to the first-generation model.

Foxconn, the company's Taiwanese handset and iPod manufacturer, has recently ramped production of the new iPhone to 800,000 units per week, says TechCrunch, citing a person "close to Apple with direct knowledge of the numbers."

The build rate is said to be "above current full capacity" for the Foxconn facilities alloted to Apple's handset business, which has led to concerns that quality control may suffer. At the current rate, Apple stands to produce more than 40 million iPhone 3Gs over the course of twelve months.

That paces well ahead of analysts' estimates (1, 2, 3) and early reports that suggested Apple's initial iPhone 3G orders spanned only 25 million units through the expected lifespan of the product.

TechCrunch believes Apple's initial order was actually 40 million units over the course of the first twelve months, but is now hearing that "those numbers are being revised upwards sharply."

Apple said it sold 1 million iPhones in the first 72 hours the new iPhone 3G was put on sale, but has not provided an updated sales tally since. The iPhone is currently on sale in 23 countries, with 20 more expected to be added on August 22nd, and another 30 by the end of the calendar year.