O2 CEO Peter Erskine claims Apple's iPhone has been the fastest selling device his mobile network has ever seen.

Actual sales figures of the hotly-touted Apple mobile remain unknown, though Erskine told The Times newspaper that "tens of thousands" of iPhones sold across the launch weekend.

An additional report in the Sunday Mirror claimed that 70,000 iPhones were sold across the launch weekend. That report cited an unnamed O2 spokesman.

First iPhone sale at O2 Oxford Street

"Demand has exceeded our expectations and we believe it will be the fastest selling mobile ever," the spokesman said. "We've hundreds of thousands of devices to sell and we are extremely happy with how things have gone."

O2 expects to sell "a couple of hundred thousand" iPhones over Christmas and New Year.

Speaking to the Times, Erskine also revealed that approximately: "Two-thirds of iPhone customers are new to O2," meaning the company has succesfully stolen subscribers away from competing networks.

Apple, O2 and Carphone Warehouse have so far declined to offer detailed sales figures for the iPhone in the UK market, and local media reports have been mixed, with some claiming the launch a failure while others observe queues and steady traffic at most major stores belonging to the three firms.

The rush to buy iPhones saw foot visitors at O2 stores increase to three times the traffic generated in the same weekend last year.

In related news, Tech.co.uk reports that Apple isn't especially worried about consumers unlocking the iPhone to work on other networks: "There's always going to be people who unlock firmware updates, bragging about unlocking devices. But you have to remember that if you do so, you won't get new software updates, free WiFi, inclusive voice minutes and data usage, nor visual voicemail. That's a lot of features lost," an iPhone development team member told the reporter.

A recent Hitwise report indicates the iPhone is the most searched for mobile phone in the UK, capturing 11.4 per cent of internet searches for a particular mobile phone. This information is based on analysis of the top 2,000 search terms that sent traffic to a Hitwise Custom Category, consisting of the top 100 online retail websites in the UK during the four weeks ending 20 October 2007.

For the four weeks ending 20 October 2007, Apple was the most searched for gadget brand in the UK, accounting for over a third of all gadget brand searches sending traffic to the top 100 retail websites. The company captured 34 per cent of search traffic by brand.

Nokia's N95 is the second most-searched for mobile phone, Hitwise claims.