The revelation was made this week by Horace Dediu at Asymco, who noted that Apple sold a total of 156 million iOS devices in 2011. That was enough to top the total number of Macs ever sold, which sits at 122 million.
As a whole, there have been 316 million cumulative iOS units sold to date. That means 2011 accounted for nearly half of all iOS devices sold by Apple since the platform launched in 2007.
Of course, the lead iOS device is the iPhone, which is likely to cross the milestone of 200 million units sold during the current quarter. Boosted by the launch of the iPhone 4S, Apple set a new record in the 2011 holiday season, with 37 million iPhones sold in that three-month span alone.
But Apple has also been surprised by the explosive success of the iPad. To date, 55 million iPads have been sold, a number that Cook admitted in a speech at this week's Goldman Sachs Conference exceeded even his most optimistic of expectations.
"To put it in context, it took us 22 years to sell 55 million Macs," Cook said. "It took us about 5 years to sell 22 million iPods, and it took us about 3 years to sell that many iPhones. And so, this thing is... on a trajectory that's off the charts."