Apple: How Do You Say “Eat My Dust” in Finnish?
“We’ve learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone. PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.”
Palm CEO Ed Colligan, December 2006
“Five hundred dollars? Fully subsidized? With a plan? I said that’s the most expensive phone in the world and it doesn’t appeal to business customers because it doesn’t have a keyboard, which makes it not a very good e-mail machine.”
– Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, January 2007
At 37.9 percent, Nokia’s share of the global handset market is the largest in the industry. Odd then to learn that it is not the most profitable. And odder still to learn that that honor belongs to Apple, which has been in the handset market for just two years.
According to Strategy Analytics, Apple’s third-quarter iPhone operating profit was $1.6 billion, while Nokia’s was $1.1 billion. Driving Apple’s profits: Strong sales, high wholesale prices and tight cost controls.
“We have identified at least 4 key factors underlying Apple’s success,” Strategy Analytics analyst Alexander Spektor explains. “First, Apple created a simple sub-brand–the iPhone–which was memorable and easy to remember. Second, the firm developed an attractive family of models with standout usability that enabled Apple to charge way-above-average prices to operators and consumers. Third, Apple distributed and co-marketed its handsets through top-tier carriers in numerous high-value countries. And fourth, the vendor has kept a solid grip on production costs by working with Foxconn, the world’s largest contract handset manufacturer.”
Quite an achievement for Apple (AAPL) and a major humiliation for Nokia (NOK), which has seen its dominance eroded by the likes of Apple and Research in Motion (RIMM), and not just in North America, but in Europe. Indeed, in its latest quarter Nokia’s smart-phone market share dropped by six points.
As Strategy Analytics analyst Neil Mawston noted at the time, “[Nokia has] no iPhone killer to drive a major revival in its smartphone volumes. [It] is still struggling in the U.S. smartphone market, and with competition intensifying in China as well, Nokia’s battles can only get tougher in 2010.”