Apple Leapfrogs Nokia as World's #1 Handset Maker

Apple's iPhone division cleared $1.6 billion in operating profits in Q3 of 2009, leap-frogging Nokia as the world's premier mobile money-maker, according to Strategy Analytics and GigaOm. (Chart below courtesy of GigaOm.)

mobile profits

That's an incredible feat (for Apple) and an incredible indication of mismanagement (for Nokia). The Finnish phone-maker shipped 60.9 million smartphones last year and holds onto nearly twice the marketshare of any other mobile phone maker. With roughly 44% of the market, you'd think they could make a few more bucks than Apple, which holds just about 10% of the market, depending on whose numbers you believe.

iphone apps

The difference may be accounted for in Apple's vertical sales model and its posh brand image. Apple just opened its 277th store in the concourse of the Louvre art museum in Paris.

Nokia may have a difficult time turning the tide, even if new app phones like the N900 are runaway hits. As GigaOm notes, Android and iPhone OS devices are more profitable than so-called "feature phones" like the N900, dollar for dollar, thanks largely to their vibrant app stores. At least, that's the assumption Motorola has staked its future on.

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  • Wansai Ounkeo

    A much less salacious way of saying that is:
    Apple is the world's top handset revenue earner.

    While it's less interesting to read as a headline, at least it is a qualified statement that isn't misleading. Your article only qualifies it as you read further on and only very briefly. Most people would beg to differ especially seeing how Nokia's reach and volume is order of magnitudes greater than Apple. A business strategy that isn't going to make the same kind of margins that Apple does.

    .. Otherwise, what is to stop someone from building 1 phone for $50 and selling it to someone for $500 billion and proclaiming himself the world's #1 handset maker? A bit ridiculous isn't it?

    Or what is to stop pundits from declaring Apple the world's #1 Operating System because if we really tried, it wouldn't be hard to show that Apple's revenue per OS is far higher than Microsoft and justify that based on revenue per market share. And since Microsoft owns 85%-90% of the OS market, it would mean MS has had "severe mismanagement" of its company.

    We could say that... but we both know that's not right.

  • luc Vncrn

    What I read into these numbers is a huge vunerability for Apple. It has fat margins compared to Nokia. Fat margins are historically an invitation to competition. Nokia is selling 4x more smartphones, to probably an audience that does not want to pay for software applications or be limited to single provider. The appstore is a cash generator but also might limit the potential market for the Iphone.