The iPhone in Q1: 5% of unit sales, 55% of global profits

May 17, 2011, 11:20 AM UTC

Visualizing Apple’s share of the worldwide mobile phone market in the first quarter of 2011

Unit sales (top) vs. Operating profit (bottom). Source: Click to enlarge.

On Monday, we reproduced a pair of charts from Asymco‘s Horace Dediu showing how Apple (AAPL) overtook Nokia (NOK) in less than four years to become the world’s No. 1 maker of mobile phones — smart or otherwise — in terms of revenue. See here.

In the charts at right, which Dediu posted Tuesday, he takes two snapshots of the global mobile phone market in Q1 2011: First by volume (top) and then by profit (bottom).

He divides the eight largest manufacturers he’s tracking into those that make only smart phones and those — the “diversified” group — that make both smart phones and feature phones.

What most interests us is the comparative size of the orange rectangles in the top and bottom charts. The small one on top represents Apple’s share of the worldwide mobile phone market by volume, about 5%. The large orange rectangle below shows Apple’s share by operating profit, about 55%.

But it’s also interesting to note that three companies — LG, Sony Ericsson and Motorola (MOT) — have disappeared in the bottom panel. They’re the leading mobile phone makers that lost money in Q1.

“I don’t see non-smart devices being interesting to vendors in the near term,” writes Dediu. “Each additional dumb phone added to a portfolio will decrease a company’s operating margin. The market dynamics are such that I think non-smart phones will disappear entirely from branded portfolios in 3 to 5 years.”

These charts come from a series Dediu began publishing on Asymco last week as part of his quarterly analysis of the mobile phone market. When complete, the full set of charts, and the data from which they were drawn, will be available for sale through Asymco Interactive. You can purchase his Q4 2010 report here.