SAN FRANCISCO—Apple Inc. overtook Finland's Nokia Corp. to claim the top spot in handset revenue in the first quarter, when Apple racked up record sales of its iPhone, according to research and consulting firm Strategy Analytics Inc.
Alex Spektor, a senior analyst at Strategy Analytics said in a statement issued by the firm that Strategy Analytics estimates that Apple's wholesale revenue for its iPhone handset division hit $11.9 billion in the first quarter, passing Nokia for the first time. Nokia had first quarter handset revenue of $9.4 billion, Spektor said.
"With strong volumes and high wholesale prices, the PC vendor [Apple] has successfully captured revenue leadership of the total handset market in less than four years," Spektor said.
"In revenue terms, Apple is now the world’s largest handset vendor, smartphone vendor and tablet vendor," said Neil Mawston, director at Strategy Analytics. Mawston said Apple's proprietary ecosystem of hardware, software and services has proven wildly popular and hugely profitable, but warned that rivals are chasing hard, particularly the Android vendor community. Strategy Analytics estimates that the global base of Android smartphones will eclipse Apple's by the end of 2011.
"Nokia is also investing heavily with Microsoft and Apple will be a key target for them next year," Mawston said.
Last week, Apple (Cupertino, Calif.) posted first quarter results that beat consensus analysts' expectations and said it sold a record number of iPhones in the first quarter— 18.65 million. According to Strategy Analytics, Apple sold each iPhone for an average wholesale price of $638 in the first quarter.
In 2010, Apple was No. 1 in smartphone revenue, taking home 29 percent of the market value, according to Strategy Analytics. Apple had just 16 percent of the total smartphone unit volume in 2010, according to the firm.