Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

How Apple is sucking the profit out of the mobile phone market

July 30, 2011: 7:26 AM ET

The iPhone last quarter took in 5.6% of unit sales and 66.3% of the profit

Click to enlarge. Source: Asymco

Some readers complained when we ran a similar headline almost a year ago, accompanied by the bottom chart at right.

At the time, Apple (AAPL) had a 3% share of the global mobile phone market but was taking 39% of the profit -- a situation that didn't seem to bode well for its competitors.

Since then, the imbalance has only grown worse. By the first quarter of 2011, according to Asymco's Horace Dediu, Apple unit share had grown to 5% and its profit share to 55%. (See here.)

On Friday, Dediu updated his graphic with data for calendar Q2 from the eight largest mobile manufacturers. As the top chart shows, Apple is now raking off nearly two thirds of all the profit in the mobile phone business with what is, according to IDC, only 5.6% of unit sales. Note that we're talking about all cell phones all over the world, not just smartphones and not just in the U.S.

This can't be much fun for anybody else trying to make money in this market. Dediu notes that four of the eight manufacturers he tracks -- Nokia (NOK), Motorola (MOT), Sony-Ericsson and LG -- actually lost money last quarter.  Samsung took 15% of the profits, down from 21% two years ago despite smartphone sales that were up 520% year over year, according to Strategy Analytics. Research in Motion (RIMM) was at 11%, basically unchanged. And HTC, the most nimble of the manufacturers building phones using Google (GOOG) Android OS, grew to 7.4%, up from 6% last quarter.

For more of Dediu's analysis -- and more charts and graphs -- visit Asymco here.

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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