Apple beats Nokia for world’s most profitable handset-maker

Nokia (NYSE:NOK) may still claim the largest global market share, but Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has overtaken it as the world’s most profitable handset vendor in the third quarter of 2009, according to Strategy Analytics. The one-handset wonder pushed Nokia into the no. 2 slot, as Nokia’s margins were hit hard by both the economic downturn and a stagnant presence in the U.S.

The firm estimates that Apple’s iPhone operating profit came in at $1.6 billion in Q3, while Nokia recorded only $1.1 billion in operating profit. “With strong volumes, high wholesale prices and tight cost controls, the PC vendor has successfully broken into the mobile phone market in just two years,” said analyst Alex Spektor in the research note.

It is not all bad news for Nokia. Even with falling profits, it managed to capture 37.9% market share and ship 16.4 million handsets in the third quarter. Strategy Analytics said that focusing on the U.S., Apple’s high-profit home turf, will be the key to recovering in 2010, but that won’t be an easy fight. Nokia’s profit margin for its handset division has been shrinking during the entire 2009 global economic downturn, and the handset-maker is also facing increased pressure from Google Android devices and other new high-end smartphones planned for the rest of the year and into 2010.

How Verizon takes share from cable, satellite

Data from the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications offer a rare level of detail into the way Verizon takes share from cable and satellite providers, pointed out Craig Moffet, senior analyst with Bernstein Research, in a research note today.

Verizon added 81,000 FiOS subscribers in Massachussetts last year (up from 66,000 the year before), while Comcast lost 31,000 subscribers there. Comcast lost 46,000 subscribers where FiOS was available and gained 15,000 subs where FiOS was not available. Moffett estimated that stolen share from satellite providers accounted for 43% of Verizon’s gains, though he pointed out that Massachusetts may have a below-average number of satellite subscribers, suggesting that Verizon may be taking greater share from satellite providers elsewhere.

“Broadly speaking, the results confirm the expectation that Verizon’s video gains are likely to peak this year and next,” Moffett wrote. “Incremental passings are at peak levels, while the base remains relatively small. We would expect subscriber growth for Verizon — and subscriber losses for Verizon’s competitors — to decelerate quite rapidly thereafter.”

Why VoIP 2.0 companies are suddenly in play

We’re still in the realm of the rumor mill, but speculation that Google has a deal in hand to acquire Gizmo5 and another rumor today that VoIP widget and backbone player Jajah is mulling through $400 million (!) offers from O2, Cisco and Microsoft seem to point to a coming run on VoIP start-ups.

It remains to be seen if these rumors, let alone this purported trend, come through. But as we’ve reflected in the past (back in September when eBay sold off Skype to investors for $2 billion), the success of mobile apps as a distribution mechanism for mobile VoIP client software, among other developments, seems to have given the VoIP market the push into the mainstream it’s long been hoping for. more…

Open Mobile Summit growing despite the economy

The Open Mobile Summit may be a tiny show compared to its larger wireless counterparts CTIA Wireless and Mobile World Congress, but unlike those shows the summit is actually growing. In its second year, the event in San Francisco drew almost 400 attendees and speakers, nearly double last year’s attendance, despite the economic downturn. Robin Batt, the summit founder and director of Open Mobile Media, said show registration reached 70% of capacity six weeks before it was scheduled, prompting her to scale back on marketing and search for a larger venue.

“Last year, the writing was on the wall for openness, though not everybody was reading it,” Batt said. “Now everyone realizes open mobility is the future.” One major difference between this year’s events and last year’s was interest from the operators. Batt said she always intended the invent to be a neutral ground for carriers and developers to meet, unlike more operator-centric shows CTIA Wireless and MWC, but last year the event wound up being a forum for developers, wireless vendors and Internet companies. This year, carriers were represented in force.  John Donovan, chief technology officer for AT&T, and Cole Brodman, CTO for T-Mobile USA, delivered keynotes and carriers were well represented across the panels.

“Last year people thought it was going to be an anti-establishment show,” Batt said. “It would have been another thing if we had something called the Open Mobile Summit and stood around bitching about the carriers. Last year most carriers didn’t participate because that’s what they felt we were going to do. Carriers realized that that wasn’t the case.”

Not that there wasn’t any anti-operator sentiment at the show. Walt Mossberg, columnist for The Wall Street Journal, compared wireless operators to “Soviet ministries” during his introduction on the second day of the show, and he and the audience didn’t give Donovan much slack during a Q&A session after his keynote. But Donovan also drew applause when he suggested to the audience that openness shouldn’t be the sole responsibility of the operators, but also of the device, software and applications community.

Cisco sees telco hosted mail partners — just not yet

Shortly after the launch by Cisco of a slew of new unified communications and collaborative technologies earlier today, I was able to touch base with a company executive for some additional insights into the service provider impact of its moves.

Cisco emphasized its long-term focus of working closely with service providers and highlighted some new products likely to be delivered with the help of operators.

But perhaps the day’s most interesting new product, a hosted e-mail offering dubbed WebEx Mail that will not only compete but emulate some of the protocols within Microsoft Exchange, will be delivered solely as a cloud service directly by Cisco — at least for the time being. more…

Did Google just buy its VoIP network?

TechCrunch is reporting that Google has just acquired VoIP provider Gizmo5, a move that would give it a voice-over-IP infrastructure to add to its Google Talk, Google Voice and Android telecom-oriented technologies.

Essentially, Gizmo5 would give Google a way to more directly integrate those IP-centric services with the PSTN, greatly upping their value.

We haven’t been able to confirm the deal yet, but the potential combo is very interesting and moves Google ever-deeper into the telecom world. more…

Video: Is AT&T/iPhone combo a lump of Christmas coal?

Looks like a lawsuit won’t be enough to scare Verizon away from using its Droid launch to slam AT&T and Apple — in particular what it claims is inferior 3G network coverage, an area emerging as a heated battlefield in the smartphone/mobile app wars.

After the jump, check out one of these Christmas-inspired advertisements featuring a visit by the iPhone to the “Land of Misfit Toys”: more…

Carriers must be open to compete, analyst says

Road to Open: For Connected Planet’s December cover story, wireless editor Kevin Fitchard and I took an in-depth look at what open means — in theory and practice — in the wireless world. In our reporting, we spoke with a number of developers and industry experts with first-hand perspective on working in an open world. In the weeks leading up to the issue, we’ll share their thoughts and insights. As always, we welcome your comments below. more…

Separating the wireless haves from the have-nots

With all the major U.S. carriers having reported their third-quarter earnings, the scales are clearly tipping in favor of the big two, Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ, NYSE:VOD) and AT&T (NYSE:T). They are pulling away from the pack in an ever widening split between the wireless haves and the wireless have-nots, according to Bernstein Research analyst Craig Moffett. more…

Connected Planet Podcast: How ‘free’ video will be monetized

Traditional “free” broadcast video and cable models are colliding with online distribution, clouding the picture of video monetization. David Allred, senior vice president of marketing and product management for Sezmi, offers his company’s take on the future of video services.

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