Apple and Samsung rivalry isn’t the biggest story anymore

Look down a little further

You might have heard about Apple finally overtaking Samsung in smartphone shipments last quarter, and in turn, owning a larger piece of the total market share. Great achievement, yes, but the true accomplishment belongs to the brands found below the two giants.

“Apple sets new iPhone sales record” and “Apple overtakes Samsung in smartphone market share” are the headlines found on most news outlets lately. And for good reason: Apple shipped 78.3 million iPhones in the fourth quarter of 2016, overcoming the 77.5 million shipped units of Samsung in the same period.

Check out the statistics from Strategy Analytics:

Those numbers mean Apple won against its arch rival by 0.1 percent in last quarter’s handset market share, 17.8 percent to 17.7 percent. But even though the two top smartphone vendors are pulling off record sales and still lead the charts, their year-on-year shares have dropped by around two percent, and that’s a cause for concern.

Where did all these smartphone users move to? According to the same table, Huawei and OPPO have been gaining major traction, with up-and-comer Vivo gradually rising up the ranks.

Huawei is close to capturing 10 percent of the world’s total market; OPPO doubled its share from the year before; and Vivo thrashed the likes of LG, Lenovo, and Sony despite being a much newer player.

Samsung will have to make its midrange phones more affordable to keep up with Chinese brands

Alarms already sounded for Apple when it lost to OPPO sales-wise in the world’s largest smartphone market last year. Samsung also saw its pending decline after the Galaxy Note 7 recall, regardless of turning a profit from its more profitable ventures.

We already called 2016 the year of the midrange smartphones, and that’s mainly because of all the high-quality, well-priced handsets we’ve reviewed in the past months — not limited to the list we recently came up with, in which four out of the five listed phones originated from mainland China.

This year will follow the same trend, maybe even more so if the Chinese brands overtake the top two companies. In order to prevent that from happening, Apple would have to officially set foot in India, and Samsung will have to push the hell out of its upcoming Galaxy S8 and Note 8 flagships while maintaining the diversity of its entire lineup.

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