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Apple Becomes Fourth-Largest Phone Maker; Grabs Greatest Share Of Profits

Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) broke into the top five largest phone-makers worldwide last quarter for the first time ever, but more importantly, it also ran away with most of the industry’s profits.

In Q3, Apple shipped 14.1 million handsets worldwide to surge past RIM (NSDQ: RIMM) and Sony (NYSE: SNE) Ericsson (NSDQ: ERIC) as the fourth-largest handset maker worldwide, according to Strategy Analytics.

It’s important to differentiate how this report compares to one from a couple of weeks ago. This includes all phones sold — from low-end to high-end — whereas the earlier results found that Apple was the second-largest smartphone maker after Nokia in only the upper echelon of the smartphone market.

But Apple isn’t a mass market play, and it didn’t claim its top stop by slashing prices — like most of its competitors. It shipped 91 percent more phones over the prior year, and it maintained its high margins with the average selling price of an iPhone at $610.

A separate report issued today by Canaccord found that Apple took the largest bite out of industry profits, by running away with 47 percent of the value generated in Q3. The next closest was RIM at only 18 percent. Other smartphone makers, like Nokia (NYSE: NOK) and HTC, generated 17 percent and 6 percent, respectively. Due to Apple’s strong share gains, most other OEMs consequently lost both marketshare and its share of the operating profits. Research in Motion appeared to lose the most operating profit compared to Q2 as its share declined from 25 percent to 18 percent, but Canaccord concluded that RIM’s value share could stabilize during the seasonally strong fourth quarter.

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