Apple And Samsung Still Control The Smartphone Market: Can Any Other Brand Take The Crown?

Canalys has released its latest statistics for the smartphone market, and it's great news for Apple and Samsung. Apple came in first place with 22% of worldwide shipments in Q4 2021, while Samsung came in second place with 20%. ´╗┐Unfortunately for other smartphone makers, there was a huge chasm between the top two companies and the rest of the market.

Xiamoi came in third place with 12%, while OPPO came in fourth with 9%, and vivo came in fifth with 8%. The disparity between the top two makers and the rest of the market leads many to wonder if any other company will ever be able to take the top spot. While other companies have certainly come close to dominating the market, there are a number of challenges they need to overcome, none of which will be easy.

Branding And Budget

One of the biggest benefits Apple and Samsung have is their branding. No matter where you are, Apple and Samsung are two of the world's most recognizable brands.

This brand recognition is a huge advantage for both companies, making it easy for them to attract attention and market their new models. In fact, it's not uncommon for both brands to have lines of people waiting to buy their new phones on release day.

In contrast, many smaller brands lack the name recognition or the budget to easily gain it. As a result, they must rely on large events, such as CES, to promote their products. Needless to say, the pandemic has been especially hard on such companies, as many events have either had to be canceled or significantly altered.

Supply Chain

Another major challenge smaller companies face is matching the supply chain advantages Apple and Samsung both have. Because of their size, and the volume of products they produce, both companies are able to secure their supply chain, buying up memory and components, to a degree smaller companies cannot.

While this can be a significant challenge to overcome under the best of circumstances, it's an even bigger issue during the pandemic when the global supply chain is already under pressure (via White House).

China And National Security Concerns

The company that came the closest to unseating Apple and Samsung was Huawei. Unfortunately for that company, it soon found itself banned by the US and its allies, forced to sell off part of its phone business, and cut off from its suppliers, both software and hardware.

Huawei's example illustrates one of the biggest challenges to toppling Apple and Samsung: mistrust of Chinese corporations. Because of various economic factors, such as being where much of the world's electronic devices are manufactured, Chinese companies have tangible competitive advantages over companies elsewhere.

Unfortunately, whether fairly or not, Chinese companies often come under criticism for aiding Beijing in its spying efforts. In addition, there have also been well-documented cases of Chinese companies stealing intellectual property from outside companies operating in China (via WSJ).

These various factors create a degree of mistrust in countries around the world and often result in sanctions and bans that impede such companies' ability to compete. ´╗┐While it's certainly possible another company will topple Apple and Samsung and control the smartphone market, it's unlikely such a change will happen anytime soon.