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10 percent of US mobile phones are iPhones; Apple earns half of all industry profits


Two reports have come out which show the immense impact Apple's iPhone has had on the mobile market. The first report from comScore indicates that one in ten mobile customers in the US owns an iPhone of some kind. That's not just smartphone customers; that's all mobile customers. Given that just four years ago pundits laughed off Apple's goal of gaining a modest one percent of the market, that's a pretty incredible milestone.

comScore's numbers show Apple is fourth in overall handset market share in the US, behind Samsung, LG, and Motorola. The firm's other numbers seem to indicate that a large portion of that gap is due to those companies splitting the still huge feature phone market between them, while Apple naturally sells only the iPhone.

Google continues to "win" the market share race among US smartphone owners, with Android handsets claiming nearly half of all subscribers compared to Apple's more modest 27 percent share. However, another report from Canaccord Genuity (via Forbes) shows that Apple's "loss" to Android in terms of market share means next to nothing; Apple earns 52 percent of all profits in the mobile phone industry. Once again, that's not just smartphone profits, but all profits for all phones.

Samsung is the closest thing Apple has to a competitor when we talk about the actual amount of money companies make from handset sales, with 29 percent of the industry's profits. (Clearly, Samsung's, er, strategy is working out well.) All other handset makers are holding on to an extremely small share of mobile industry profits.

Once-mighty Nokia, which held an incredible two-thirds of all mobile industry profits in 2007, now accounts for only four percent of overall profits. All other handset makers, including RIM, are either earning a niche amount of profits or facing huge financial losses. Motorola has posted a net loss every year since 2007, which makes Google's $10 billion acquisition of the company seem that much odder.

None of this is to say that Apple can afford to stop innovating now that it's positioned itself at the undisputed top of the mobile industry's financial heap. Nokia is a perfect example of just how far a company can fall if it rests on its laurels for too long, but it seems unlikely that Apple will make that mistake.

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