Apple 2.0

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Apple and Samsung split 109% of mobile phone profits in Q3

November 16, 2013: 12:17 PM ET

If you ignore China and count Nokia, RIM, Motorola, LG and HTC as "negative profits."

Screen Shot 2013-11-16 at 11.03.02 AM

Source: Canaccord Genuity. Click to enlarge.

Source: Canaccord Genuity. Click to enlarge.

FORTUNE -- According to Canaccord Genuity's Michael Walkley, Apple (AAPL) and Samsung managed last quarter to split all the world's profits in mobile phones -- 56% Apple and 53% Samsung -- and come up with a total of more than 100%.

That only makes sense if you accept two premises:

  • That money lost in a market should be treated as "negative profits" -- an oxymoron if I ever heard one.
  • That you can ignore every Chinese mobile phone manufacturer, even though as a group they accounted for more than 30% of units sold in Q3 2013 (see pie chart).

Ignoring ZTE, TCL and the other Chinese manufacturers was a matter of necessity, according to Walkley, due to the lack of what he calls "available profit metrics" (i.e. quarterly reports).

The question of how market researchers account for so-called Chinese white box devices -- often cheap, underpowered knockoffs -- has become a sore point for companies such as Apple that don't believe their high-end products are in the same market.

For an Apple-centric take on the issue, see Daniel Eran Dilger's The curious case of IDC, Gartner & Strategy Analytics' PC, phone & tablet data on Apple posted Saturday on

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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

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