Apple’s iPhone storms BlackBerry-maker RIM and carries fatter component and assembly margins, too

“As the battle for the smartphone market heats up, comparisons abound between Research In Motion’s BlackBerry Storm, released in November, and Apple’s iPhone,” Arik Hesseldahl reports for BusinessWeek.

“For starters, both devices boast a touchscreen, forgoing the buttons found on more conventional phones… In RIM’s case, the Storm’s screen is ‘clickable,’ essentially one big button, creating the tactile sensation that makes virtual on-screen buttons more like real buttons. On the other hand, Apple’s screen boasts multi-touch capabilities that mean it can register as many as 10 touches simultaneously, giving the software applications a lot of flexibility… But the more important comparison, from the bottom-line perspective, lies in which device carries a fatter margin. And on a cost-per-unit basis, the advantage for the moment appears to belong to Apple,” Hesseldahl reports.

“A new analysis of the BlackBerry Storm by market research firm iSuppli indicates the cost of components and manufacturing for RIM is slightly less than $203. By comparison, those costs for Apple’s iPhone 3G, the second iteration of the device, are less than $175. iSuppli’s estimates factor in only the cost of components and assembly and don’t include estimates for the cost of software, licensing of patents, or distribution,” Hesseldahl reports.

MacDailyNews Take: iSuppli’s estimates also do not include the cost of original R&D (vs. derivative engineering), salaries for top people who innovate (vs. those who just copy years after the fact while tossing in their own poorly-conceived twists) – RIM must save beaucoup dollares on both counts – not to mention the cost of marketing, bandwidth (100’s of millions of app and media downloads and other ancillary costs.

Hesseldahl continues, “Rapid-fire sales are bringing the iPhone to within spitting distance of the BlackBerry, which has been on the market for about a decade. During the quarter that ended on Dec. 2, RIM added 2.6 million new accounts and sold 6.7 million devices, bringing the total of subscriber accounts worldwide to 21 million. In its most recent quarter, Apple sold 4.4 million iPhones, bringing its total to more than 17 million.”

MacDailyNews Take: Won’t be long now. (Apple’s first iPhone was released on June 29, 2007, making it exactly 19 months that iPhone has been on the market. Versus about a decade for RIM. Bain de sang.

Hesseldahl continues in his full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “James W.” for the heads up.]

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