Sorry Apple, Samsung's Note 7 Loss Is China's Gain

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Turns out, Samsung's Note 7 disaster wasn't the boon for Apple many predicted it would be, at least not yet.

According to new data from Gartner, Apple didn't benefit from Samsung's exploding smartphone gaffe, but three Chinese handset makers did. The companies — Huawei, Oppo and BBK Communication Equipment — together accounted for 21 percent of the smartphones sold worldwide in the third quarter of 2016. They were the only smartphone vendors in the global top five to increase their sales and market share during the period.

Even with an exploding smartphone in its lineup, Samsung managed to maintain its No. 1 position in the smartphone market last quarter with 19.2 percent market share, but its sales decreased 14.2 percent year over year, marking the company's worst performance ever.

"The decision to withdraw the Galaxy Note 7 was correct, but the damage to Samsung's brand will make it harder for the company to increase its smartphone sales in the short term," Gartner Research Director Anshul Gupta said in a statement. "For Samsung, it's crucial that the Galaxy S8 launches successfully, so that partners and customers regain trust in its brand."

No. 2 Apple also had a pretty rough quarter, logging a 6.6 percent decline in sales. Apple accounted for 11.5 percent of the global smartphone market, its lowest share since the first quarter of 2009.

"The withdrawal of Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 may benefit sales of Apple's iPhone 7 Plus only slightly, as Note 7 users are likely to stay with Samsung or at least with Android," Gartner Research Director Roberta Cozza said in a statement.

Huawei, meanwhile, is "closing the gap with Apple" thanks to its feature-rich devices, Garner said. Last quarter, the two companies were separated by less than a three percentage point difference in market share, with Huawei capturing 8.7 percent of the market. As it expands into Europe and the US, Huawei is poised for "another year of promising growth."

Oppo came in fourth last quarter with 6.7 percent market share, followed by BBK Communication Equipment with 5.3 percent.

"China led the growth in the smartphone market in the third quarter of 2016," Gupta wrote. "Sales of smartphones in China grew by 12.4 percent, and the vendors who most successfully exploited the sales opportunities there were Oppo and BBK Communication Equipment."

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