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Apple's iPhone reaps dominant 92% of handset industry's profits

Though the iPhone is just 20 percent of the overall smartphone market, Apple's handset accounted for a colossal 92 percent of the industry's operating income during the March quarter, according to new research.

That share is up from 65 percent a year ago, according to a Canaccord Genuity memo obtained by AppleInsider on Monday. Samsung, Apple's chief rival, claimed 15 percent of income. Their combined figure surpassed 100 percent because other companies in the top eight either took losses or broke even.

BlackBerry, for instance, held a flat zero, while Lenovo hit -1 percent. Microsoft declined to a 4 percent share, and will be radically altering the way it tackles phones as it cuts up to 7,800 jobs and writes off its Nokia acquisition.

Even Samsung recently forecast a 4 percent drop in operating profits for the June quarter, something a Wall Street Journal source blamed on a botched Galaxy S6 launch. Although the phone is selling, the company initially produced too many regular S6 units and too few Edge models.

Apple's iPhone is thought to account for less than 20 percent of worldwide smartphone unit sales, meaning that its control of industry profits is mostly due to higher margins off each customer. The iPhone's major competion comes in the form of Android devices, which because of their shared platform have to compete on either cost or hardware features, reducing profit margins.

Canaccord noted that the income estimate didn't factor in privately-held firms like China's Xiaomi, but argued that such companies were unlikely to skew figures in a meaningful way.

Apple is due to announce June-quarter financial results on July 21. A conference call is scheduled for 5 p.m. Eastern time that day, during which Apple executives will share results with investors, analysts, and the media. AppleInsider will break the results as soon as they're available.