Apple takes bite out of Nokia profit
Apple has overtaken Nokia as the most profitable handset maker, says a research report.
By James Rogers, TheStreet.com
Apple has overtaken Nokia as the world's most profitable handset maker, according to research released Wednesday.
The Finnish handset giant slipped into second place during the third quarter, according to the Strategy Analytics report, as Nokia felt the impact of a tough economy and a stagnant U.S. presence.
"Nokia's profit margin for its handset division has been shrinking during the 2009 global economic downturn," said Neil Mawston, director of Strategy Analytics' Wireless research division, in a statement.
Strategy Analytics estimates that iPhone-maker Apple's operating profit was $1.6 billion during the third quarter, compared to Nokia's $1.1 billion.
"Apple overtook Nokia for the first time," added Alex Spektor, an analyst at Strategy Analytics. "With strong volumes, high wholesale prices and tight cost controls, the PC vendor has successfully broken into the mobile phone market in just two years."
The U.S. is nonetheless key to Nokia's efforts to revitalize its business, according to the research firm. "A successful fight on Apple's high-profit home turf can simultaneously help to revitalize Nokia's margins and to put a check on Apple's surging growth," explained Mawston.
Strategy Analytics' research, however, comes days after IDC reported that Nokia shipped the most smartphones during the third quarter, followed by BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion and Apple.
IDC also found that handsets based on Google's Android operating system, which are sold by HTC, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and Motorola, are generating plenty of buzz. Most recently, Motorola unleashed its Droid phone, which is based on the Android OS.
Telecom giant Verizon says that it sold "a lot" of Droid phones during its first weekend, although there have been rumblings of sluggish sales.
Broadpoint AmTech analyst Mark McKechnie estimates that Verizon sold more than half of the 200,000 Droid phones Motorola supplied to its stores. Michael Cote of the Cote Collaborative believes Verizon has sold at least 400,000 Droid phones. Even the higher number, however, is dwarfed by the million phones sold by Apple during the three days following the iPhone 3GS launch last year.
AT&T's exclusive iPhone sales agreement with Apple is set to expire next year and Verizon is widely expected to add the popular phone to its lineup.
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