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Threats to Samsung and Apple Phone Dominance Rising Worldwide

Mobile World Congress - Day 1Mobile World Congress - Day 1
Visitors look at the new Samsung Galaxy S7 on the opening day of the World Mobile Congress on Feb. 22, 2016, in Barcelona. Photograph by David Ramos — Getty Images

Samsung and Apple remain the two largest smartphone sellers in the world, but threats are rising.

Chinese phone makers like Huawei and Xiaomi are grabbing market share in fast-growing developing markets, while consumers are becoming more reluctant to switch brands in the slower-growing developed markets, according to market research firm Kantar Worldpanel.

“Anyone still focusing on these two giant competitors, however, is missing the bigger picture,” Kantar analyst Lauren Guenveur wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. “With Huawei aiming to overtake Apple as the second-largest smartphone vendor by 2020, and rumors swirling about Google entering the handset market on its own, Apple and Samsung should stop worrying so much about each other and take a look around them.”

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In the United States, Samsung (SSNLF) accounted for 37% of smartphones sold from March through May and Apple (AAPL) captured a 29% share. But looking at the flagship models revealed a closer race. Samsung’s various Galaxy S7 variations grabbed 16% of sales versus an almost 15% share for models in Apple’s iPhone 6S line, Kantar said.

Among those planning to update their phone in the next year, 88% of current Apple users in the U.S. say they will buy another iPhone and 86% of Samsung owners want to stick with the brand.

In China, however, Samsung had just a 9% share of sales and Apple had almost 20%, Kantar said. Local manufacturer Huawei beat them both, grabbing almost 26% of the market, while Xiaomi had 19%. Up and coming phone maker Oppo quadrupled its share to 8%.

In India, Samsung is leading followed by Micromax and Xiaomi, Kantar said without giving specific market share figures. Both Apple and Huawei have also targeted the market for growth.

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“Apple and Samsung have less to worry about from each other going forward—and much more to worry about from other competitors, and the changing landscape,” Guenveur wrote. “In that landscape, what remains to be seen is how sales in those developing markets in Latin and South America and India buffet the standing of the big three brands.”