Nokia vs. Apple Highlights Lucrative Smartphone Business

Includes: AAPL, BB, GOOG, IXN, NOK
by: Don Dion

A spate of lawsuits filed between Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Nokia (NYSE:NOK) underscores the profitability of the wireless revolution and investors who want in should check out iShares S&P Global Technology Sector Index Fund (NYSEARCA:IXN).

Nokia Corp. announced last week that they have asked the International Trade Commission to investigate widespread patent infringement by Apple Inc. This is the third installment in an expanding exchange of patent lawsuits between the two companies, which started with Nokia suing Apple and then Apple responding by suing Nokia.

The entire situation has the potential to get messy for either party, but the timeline of the litigation and the outcome will not be certain for at least a year.

Therefore, I would advise investors to not try and pick a winner between the two companies or chase down a niche ETF with large holdings of one company or the other.

Instead, I think one should keep the bigger picture in mind, which is that this lawsuit highlights the growth and profitability of smartphones and mobile technology in the future.

For instance, Apple Inc. (AAPL) has had enormous success with its iPhone and the device’s ability to utilize downloadable mobile applications. The success of smartphone technology has even enticed Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) to brand its own model, the Nexus One, starting in January. Going beyond smartphones is the overarching trend of consumers demanding more function from mobile devices wherein we see success stories such as the popularity of netbook computers and electronic book readers.

A strong fund with U.S. and international companies that stand to benefit from smartphone and mobile device usage is IXN, which has holdings of Apple, Google, Samsung, Nokia Corp. (NOK), and Research in Motion (RIMM). These companies are weighted in the fund’s portfolio at 7.0%, 5.6%, 3.8%, 1.8%, and 1.3%, respectively. Large tech companies such as Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM), and Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) that have done well in 2009 are also strongly represented in the top ten holdings of IXN and have helped the ETF increase roughly 53% in 2009 in comparison to gains of about 28% for the S&P 500.

To sum up, investors should not pick a side in the Apple vs. Nokia dispute; they should pick the sector, and a great way to do so is with IXN.

Disclosure: No positions