Ask anyone in this country what an iPhone costs, and most will say that Apple's
However, this isn't what Apple is making. The world's most valuable tech company rang up an average of $659 per iPhone (including attached services and accessories) during the holiday quarter.
Who pays the lion's share of the difference? Wireless carriers are willing to subsidize more than $300 per phone, knowing that they will more than make that back by locking owners into two-year contracts. It's not pretty. Sprint
And it's not just carriers. Retailers are also hurting when consumers choose an iPhone over a higher-margin Android device. RadioShack's
Now let's go overseas. You've seen the long lines and even riots at Apple Store locations in China. However, it's a different story in parts of southern Europe, where carriers can't subsidize smartphones.
The Wall Street Journal wrote yesterday about the iPhone's weak market penetration in certain countries. According to market tracker IDC, just 9% of the smartphones sold in Portugal are iPhones. In Greece the market share drops to a mere 5%.
In the U.S., Android phones don't sell for a lot less than iPhones. If you're willing to rock a 2009 handset, carriers will even give you the iPhone 3GS for free with a two-year wireless contract. However, in countries where handsets aren't subsidized, it's hard to justify a $680 iPhone 4S when a perfectly capable Android phone costs less than $200.
Apple's challenges in Europe aren't new. A study by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech two months ago showed that the iPhone's market share was slipping in Germany, France, Italy, and Spain.
The obvious rebuttal here is Apple's blowout fiscal first quarter. With or without continental Europe, Apple sold a whopping 37 million iPhones this past quarter. However, it does lead one to wonder if Apple's premium pricing is opening too wide a door for Google
Apple's stateside response has to keep older models around at lower price points, but given the rapidly evolving marketplace for both iOS and Android, that 2009 gadgetry has never felt so stale.
It's hard to knock Apple and its ability to carve itself the thickest slice of the industry's profits, but Android's European invasion is really just the beginning.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.