The Orange View (on hiatus) Because Apple is great but it isn't perfect

15Feb/11Off

Bad chart hits the Economist: Profit is not a zero sum game

One of my less-than-favorite charts cooked up by former Nokia analyst Horace Dediu made The Economist (or at least one of its blogs) the other day in an article about the Nokia-Microsoft tie-up. This is the one that shows the profits of eight largest mobile phone makers displayed over time as a share of 100%. So Apple goes from nil at the beginning of 2007 to around 50% by the end of 2010.

First of all, the chart is just a visual nightmare, as your eye tries to compare eight different companies results over four years smooshed up like this, plus a ninth bar for "other." How exactly has HTC done over this span? Better or worse than Samsung?

But the bigger problem and greater fallacy is the misleading notion that Apple's gains must be coming at the expense of other players. Profits at Research in Motion, for example, were $2.5 billion for the first nine months of its fiscal 2011. Crushed by Apple? Not exactly. That's up from $881 million for the same nine months of RIMM's fiscal 2008 (which I think best corresponds to calendar 2007).

Posted by Aaron Pressman

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