iPhone Makes Apple Most Profitable Handset Vendor

Nokia and other traditional handset makers, step aside. Apple has taken over as the most profitable handset vendor in the world.

That’s according to research firm Strategy Analytics, which this week said that Nokia has slipped into second place, due to the poor economy and a stagnant U.S. presence.

Apple’s iPhone certainly hasn’t been stagnant. Thanks to the seen-everywhere smartphone, Apple’s handset division made $1.6 billion in Q3 2009. Nokia’s operating profit was $1.1 billion. Taking over the world handset lead in just two years of selling phones? Not bad.

“Nokia’s profit margin for its handset division has been shrinking during the 2009 global economic downturn,” said Neil Mawston, director of the Wireless Device Strategies service at Strategy Analytics. “[We] believe that the United States, where Nokia now trails Apple in market share, is the key to Nokia’s recovery in 2010. 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.”

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