Apple has a relatively tiny slice of the smartphone market, measured by phones shipped to consumers.
According to the latest data from IDC, iPhones were 17.6% of smartphones shipped last quarter. Android-based phones were 78.1% of the phones shipped.
But if you measure the smartphone market by profits, Apple is practically a monopoly.
Analyst Tavis McCourt at Raymond James estimates Apple has 87.4% of smartphone profits.
The next closest is Samsung, with 32.2% of smartphone profits.
Yes, those numbers add up to over 100%. That’s because everyone else is losing money, and so McCourt gives the rest of the world’s phone makers negative profit share.
This is pretty astounding, and a neat little fact for Apple. But, it’s not necessarily something to brag about.
Apple is minting cash because it prices its phones at a premium relative to the competition. In most of the world, an entry level iPhone 5S costs over $US800. At that price, cheaper Android makers have swooped in and taken share from the iPhone.
Apple has thrived even with a smaller piece of the market. But its growth has finally hit a wall. Revenue was up 6% last quarter as the iPhone slows.
The next wave of smartphone buyers are not going to be willing to pay $US800 for a phone. And the next wave of smartphone makers will be able to produce a low-cost phone that can replicate a lot of what the iPhone offers.
Apple has shown no inclination to lower its prices, despite the fact that it has more money than it needs. The question that hangs over Apple is what happens next? Where does growth come from if it’s going to protect its monopoly on smartphone profits.