Nokia's (NYS: NOK) fancy new Lumia 900 may be the Finnish giant's new belle of the ball, but it also costs a pretty penny. The flagship Microsoft (NAS: MSFT) Windows Phone device is getting a lot of backing from carrier partner AT&T (NYS: T) , which is gunning up its marketing engines into high gear to push its new exclusive smartphone.
Although if you were to compare the component costs next to Apple's (NAS: AAPL) latest iPhone 4S, it doesn't paint a very pretty margin picture for Nokia. Apple's device sells for more and costs less, spelling out juicier margins for Cupertino. Here's how the iSuppli bill of material estimates for some of the more relevant (and expensive) components stacks up:
Nokia Lumia 900
Apple iPhone 4S
|Display and touchscreen||$58||$37|
|Mechanical and electro-mechanical||$18||$33|
|Total component cost||$209||$190|
|Unsubsidized retail price||$450||$649|
|Gross margin ($)||$241||$459|
|Gross margin (%)||53.5%||70.7%|
That's a pretty major margin advantage for Apple to enjoy on its newest iteration of the iPhone, which also helps explain why Nokia's overall gross margin of 27.7% last quarter hardly compares with the 47.4% gross margin that the iPhone maker enjoyed last quarter.
On the cost side, there are a couple of notable differences worth mentioning on why the Lumia 900 racks up more component costs than the iPhone.
The display and touchscreen combination costs much more on the Lumia 900, but there are two big differences. The Lumia 900 features a notably larger 4.3-inch display, compared with the 3.5-inch iPhone Retina Display. The Lumia 900's display is also an AMOLED display from Samsung, which are pricier to manufacture.
Both devices use wireless chips from Qualcomm (NAS: QCOM) , but the Lumia 900 uses one with 4G LTE capabilities, while the iPhone will likely see 4G LTE data speeds later this year served up by Qualcomm's newest 28-nanometer baseband chips. For now, the current iPhone's 3G speeds are slower than the Lumia 900's data connection.
These cost estimates exclude things like manufacturing, marketing, distribution, or software R&D. Of course, Apple spends very little on R&D in percentage terms relative to its revenue, and Microsoft is the one pitching in the Windows Phone operating system on the Lumia 900.
Nokia's fate looks dimmer each quarter, with its first quarter smartphone market share getting slashed by nearly two-thirds and falling into single-digit territory as Samsung and Apple take over. Its margins aren't helping much, either.
Apple's dominance in mobile has provided investors with some serious returns, and if you're one of those who've been on the sidelines, you might think it's too late to participate. Regardless of which side you find yourself on, we're offering new premium research service on Apple for investors just like you. By subscribing, not only will you receive our head technology analyst's take on the stock today, but you'll also receive regular updates on Apple for an entire year! Better yet, you can join for the cost of a single stock trade. Otherwise, if you're looking for some other companies riding The Next Trillion-Dollar Revolution in mobile, grab a free copy of this report to find out who hopes to power the next generation of smartphones and tablets.
At the time this article was published Fool contributor Evan Niu owns shares of AT&T and Apple, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft, Qualcomm, and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Microsoft and Apple and creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft and Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.
Copyright © 1995 - 2012 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.