Apple's Share of Mobile Phone Industry Profits Pushes Toward 60%

Asymco yesterday published a pair of charts providing an interesting perspective on mobile phone company performance for the first quarter of 2011, comparing units sold against profitability.

asymco 1q11 volumes
In the first view, the eight largest mobile phone brands are depicted according to share of units sold during the quarter, with Apple (shown in dark orange) checking in at about 7% share among those top vendors. Apple is joined by Research in Motion and HTC in a category of "smartphone-only" vendors that were responsible for 16% of the overall units shipped during the quarter by the top vendors.

asymco 1q11 profits
But in looking at the profitability of those top eight vendors, a very different view emerges with Apple accounting for about 57% of total profits and Research in Motion and HTC pitching in to give the smartphone-only vendors over 75% of the total profits among the top vendors. In addition, three of the five "diversified" vendors (LG, Motorola, and Sony Ericsson) drop out of the picture entirely in the new view as they were each unable to turn a profit on their mobile phone businesses during the quarter.

Asymco's Horace Dediu argues that the trend of smartphone vendors dominating industry profits will force the "diversified" vendors to refocus on smartphones, further driving the shift away from so-called "dumb phones" and leaving that market to lower-tier vendors.

I've suggested before that I don't see non-smart devices being interesting to vendors in the near term. Each additional dumb phone added to a portfolio will decrease a company's operating margin. The market dynamics are such that I think non-smart phones will disappear entirely from branded portfolios in 3 to 5 years.

Apple's profit share of around 57% for the quarter is up from 50% in Asymco's study for the fourth quarter of 2010 and continues a trend that has seen the company grab an increasingly large portion of industry profits over the past several years.

Related Forum: iPhone

Top Rated Comments

AppleScruff1 Avatar
148 months ago
Your question is off topic, but since you asked, I'll answer. And since you're one of the more extreme fanatics out there, it is appropriate.

I have been a computer geek since 1979 - from the time of my 1st TRS-80 Model 1 (4k), through the Pets, Vic-20's, C64s, Atari 800s, Amigas, ST's, PC's, and after several false starts (I had a Mac SE, Mac Classic and later a Color Classic back in the day) my first modern Mac in 2006 (a mini). Today, I am on a Mac 90% of my day, be it my Mini (my second one, the 1st with Nvidia graphics), my iMac (G5 20" isight), a Hackintoish or my Macbook 13". I still use a PC that I built for work related stuff, but I am a 90% Mac user. I hold a bachelors degree in "computer science" which quite honestly is about worthless since few are programming COBOL using punchcards today.

I enjoy the Mac. But the reason I enjoy it is OS X. I don't find anything "magical" about the hardware. It's generally a generation behind any current PC hardware out there and priced 30% more. You can buy the same hardware for a PC that is cheaper - my Hackintoish closely matches a new Mac Pro yet cost $900 less than the cheapest MacPro.

Over the years I've graduated to the iPhone (I've had all 4 models), an iPod Touch (I bought my wife one and after she realized how simple it was to use, I was able to add her to my AT&T plan and get her a 3GS), and an iPad. I've also added my son to my iPhone plan (who graduated from Penn State LAST YEAR and really needs his own plan :) ) .. My parents have my 1st Mini still going strong today!

I spend a lot of time trying to convert PC users over to Macs (Not easy because of the Price) and HAVE converted my oldest son (an Union Craftworker), my niece, and my Daughter (who graduated this year from Kennesaw University THIS YEAR). My younger son (who I mentioned earlier) has a Macbook, but uses a PC as his primary machine since he is a gamer.

I think my passion and experience towards technology makes me worthly of engaging in serious conversation and debate regarding computing, technology, and the digital lifestyle.

Yet I never can seem to carry on an intelligent conversation on ANY Mac forum - Why???? Because they are infested with people like you LTD, fanatics who instead of addressing any comment critical of Apple goes off an a mindless, flaming, fanboy rant. Examples:

* Hey, you must be a troll or on Ballmer's payroll!
* Go play with your Clunky PC with it's Crappy Windows
* Compared to your crappy PC, Macs are just Delicious
* I can't help it you're poor and can't afford a Mac.

This along with using the word "elegant" in ever sentence and quoting "Steve" (I skate to where the puck is going to be), and my very favorite from MDN (Nutcase Central) "What's everyone going to buy "Steve" for his birthday this year"????

No LTD, Mac's aren't "magical, elegant, delicious, sexy, nor do they have "the sex". All Windows computers are NOT "crappy, clunky, or junky". And because you use a Mac, it doesn't make you any better, smarter, or "cooler" than the "Windows Sufferers". If you want to be taken seriously outside the fanboy community, learn why you think a Mac is a better platform (not, Oh God, it's just so delicious and elegant)...

Now, I apologize for the long, off topic post - but I hope I answered your question.

Outstanding post. If more Mac forum posters were like this, they wouldn't have the reputation that they do now.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
johncarync Avatar
148 months ago
What the heck kind of chart is that???!!

Here's my chart on how many use a pie chart to show this kind of data and how many use an unnecessary, weird set of boxes...

Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MrWinters Avatar
148 months ago
Why do you feel it necessary in your signature to announce to everyone that you're "not blindly fanatical about anything"?

Is it to convince us our convince yourself? Moreover, why would we need convincing?
Your question is off topic, but since you asked, I'll answer. And since you're one of the more extreme fanatics out there, it is appropriate.

I have been a computer geek since 1979 - from the time of my 1st TRS-80 Model 1 (4k), through the Pets, Vic-20's, C64s, Atari 800s, Amigas, ST's, PC's, and after several false starts (I had a Mac SE, Mac Classic and later a Color Classic back in the day) my first modern Mac in 2006 (a mini). Today, I am on a Mac 90% of my day, be it my Mini (my second one, the 1st with Nvidia graphics), my iMac (G5 20" isight), a Hackintoish or my Macbook 13". I still use a PC that I built for work related stuff, but I am a 90% Mac user. I hold a bachelors degree in "computer science" which quite honestly is about worthless since few are programming COBOL using punchcards today.

I enjoy the Mac. But the reason I enjoy it is OS X. I don't find anything "magical" about the hardware. It's generally a generation behind any current PC hardware out there and priced 30% more. You can buy the same hardware for a PC that is cheaper - my Hackintoish closely matches a new Mac Pro yet cost $900 less than the cheapest MacPro.

Over the years I've graduated to the iPhone (I've had all 4 models), an iPod Touch (I bought my wife one and after she realized how simple it was to use, I was able to add her to my AT&T plan and get her a 3GS), and an iPad. I've also added my son to my iPhone plan (who graduated from Penn State LAST YEAR and really needs his own plan :) ) .. My parents have my 1st Mini still going strong today!

I spend a lot of time trying to convert PC users over to Macs (Not easy because of the Price) and HAVE converted my oldest son (an Union Craftworker), my niece, and my Daughter (who graduated this year from Kennesaw University THIS YEAR). My younger son (who I mentioned earlier) has a Macbook, but uses a PC as his primary machine since he is a gamer.

I think my passion and experience towards technology makes me worthly of engaging in serious conversation and debate regarding computing, technology, and the digital lifestyle.

Yet I never can seem to carry on an intelligent conversation on ANY Mac forum - Why???? Because they are infested with people like you LTD, fanatics who instead of addressing any comment critical of Apple goes off an a mindless, flaming, fanboy rant. Examples:

* Hey, you must be a troll or on Ballmer's payroll!
* Go play with your Clunky PC with it's Crappy Windows
* Compared to your crappy PC, Macs are just Delicious
* I can't help it you're poor and can't afford a Mac.

This along with using the word "elegant" in ever sentence and quoting "Steve" (I skate to where the puck is going to be), and my very favorite from MDN (Nutcase Central) "What's everyone going to buy "Steve" for his birthday this year"????

No LTD, Mac's aren't "magical, elegant, delicious, sexy, nor do they have "the sex". All Windows computers are NOT "crappy, clunky, or junky". And because you use a Mac, it doesn't make you any better, smarter, or "cooler" than the "Windows Sufferers". If you want to be taken seriously outside the fanboy community, learn why you think a Mac is a better platform (not, Oh God, it's just so delicious and elegant)...

Now, I apologize for the long, off topic post - but I hope I answered your question.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
akm3 Avatar
148 months ago
to me that tells me that Apple is really ripping off its users by using cheaper parts and selling lower powered phones for huge profit.

Now apple only having 1 basic phone design really helps in savings as they only have 1 line to really deal with but still they sure as hell are not passing on the savings to us. Instead they just try to rip us off more.

No, Apple is ripping off it's CARRIER partners by demanding outrageous fees and terms, while simultaneously creating a product with unprecedented demand forcing the carriers to bow to them and their control and vision. Consumers win. Apple wins. Carriers, kicking and screaming, win too.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dustinsc Avatar
148 months ago


Apple uses long cycles of its single phone to make huge profit. By the end of its life it is safe to say they are making a killings off every phone. To bad Apple does not pass on those savings.


No corporation ever "passes on savings" unless it gives that company a competitive advantage. Companies don't exist as a service to you. They exist for one reason and one reason only: make money for shareholders.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JAT Avatar
148 months ago
In other news Apple cut cdma iphone production by 57 percent due to poor sell through. In other words Android is kicking Apples but on Verizon.
Without base numbers, there is no way to draw that conclusion. Simple supply error on Apple's part. Only becomes a problem if it is so bad that it becomes an inventory issue, as well. Probably won't, but again, you don't have the statistics to actually analyze everything.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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