Global operating profit from the sale of mobile phones among eight major players, by Asymco

In case you missed it, the big news today is that Apple is king of the hill in smartphones and is now chasing LG for the third place in global cell phone sales. Samsung, which reported its second-quarter earnings today, ranks as the world’s second-largest smartphone maker in units, but the company said it will cease reporting phone and tablet sales citing competition from Apple. If that didn’t impress you, this data point will blow your mind: More than six out of ten dollars of profit in the mobile phone business go to Apple’s pockets, or 66.3 percent. This is interesting because it shows Apple steadily improving its profitability in the cell phone space at the expense of its rivals, Asmyco’s Horace Dediu explains:

This share is up from 57% in Q1 and 50% in Q3 and Q4. Samsung’s share went to 15%, though that’s not a peak level historically. In Q1 2008 the company was at 21%. RIM was at 11%, a level in a range that has been unchanged for three years. Finally, HTC captured 7.4%, a new high and an increase from 6% since last quarter.

And guess who controlled the industry’s profits four years ago, when the iPhone debuted? That’s right, Nokia, which in the second quarter of 2007 enjoyed 55 percent of global operating profit from the sale of mobile phones. Back then, Apple, Research In Motion and HTC collectively captured 11 percent of the profits and now they together control 84 percent of the profits. And another somewhat related tidbit: Apple now has more cash than the world’s largest sovereign government.

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