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Charts of the day: Samsung vs. Apple vs. Google

November 14, 2012: 10:27 AM ET

Not only has Samsung overtaken Apple in smartphones, it's overtaken Google in income

Click to enlarge. Source: Asymco

FORTUNE -- The chart at right, from Asymco's Horace Dediu, shows Samsung's "spectacular" success in smartphone shipments -- success that Dediu attributes to the company's 2010 decision to shift its mobile portfolio to Android smartphones and to build a large variety of them.

In two years Samsung has gone from shipping almost no smartphones to shipping 50 million per quarter. Meanwhile, the operating margins on those devices, while still smaller than the nearly 50% Apple (AAPL) collects the sale of each iPhone, have climbed from 12% to 21%, according to Dediu. Result: Samsung now takes in nearly 40% of the industry's profits.

So profitable has Samsung's smartphone business become, in fact, that income from its mobile operations alone have surpassed Google's (GOOG) income from all its operations. See chart below:

Source: Asymco

Dediu's analysis raises a lot of  interesting questions:

"Is Samsung's trajectory sustainable? Why aren't there other vendors successful with Android? Why isn't Google successful with Android? Why isn't Google's Motorola successful with Android? What would happen if Samsung soaks up so much profit from mobile that it's in a position to acquire Google and control the trajectory of their enabling platform?"

For some tentative answers, see the Asymco comment stream.

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