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By Carl Howe

Think that the incredible buzz around the Apple iPhone is hurting handset makers like Research in Motion (RIMM) and Nokia (NYSE:NOK)? Think again.

Check out this chart of the stock prices since the beginning of the year:

click to enlarge
handset makers

While Apple's stock price is up 45%, Nokia's is up 34% and Research in Motion's, the maker of the Blackberry email phone, is up 27%. All this while the S&P 500 index is up 6% for the year to date. Only Motorola is down among this giant handset makers, and we'd argue that because of strategic errors from years past still haunting them. Of course, it doesn't help to have Carl Icahn wanting to take over your board and having your best phone designer defect either.

Our view: excitement about the iPhone is reviving the handset manufacturers because it has loosened the near dictatorial power wireless carriers have wielded over handset makers. Nokia, RIM, and Motorola all have good designers and engineers working for them, but carrier pay-by-the-drink business models were stifling their innovation and ability to actually get products to market.

The flood of "iPhone-killers" coming can only improve the mobile phone consumer experience, which quite frankly, has ranged only between mediocre to abysmal to date. Imagine what will happen to all these stocks if the consumer experience were actually good.

Disclosure: Author owns Apple stock at the time of writing.

Source: Apple's iPhone Has Boosted Stock of Rival Handset Producers