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.CD