The smartphone market is booming with 318 million units shipped in the first quarter of 2017. However, Samsung and Apple are seeing an ever-shrinking slice of the pie.

The Big Two

According to market research firm Gartner, Samsung remains the world's top producer of smartphones. The South Korea-based company shipped nearly 79 million units in the first quarter of 2017, but this was a decrease from the more than 81 million units it shipped last year. The company's market share also fell from 23.3 percent to 20.7 percent.

Apple actually saw its number of shipped phones increase to about 52 million this year, up from last year's numbers of roughly 51.6 million. However, as with Samsung, its share of the smartphone market declined from 14.8 percent to 13.7 percent.

The Rise Of China

The main reason for the decline of Samsung and Apple has to do with the rise of Chinese smartphone manufacturers, whose aggressive pricing structure and quality products provide the industry leaders with some stiff competition.

"The top three Chinese smartphone manufacturers are driving sales with their competitively priced, high-quality smartphones equipped with innovative features," said Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner. "Furthermore, aggressive marketing and sales promotion have further helped these brands to take share from other brands in markets such as India, Indonesia, and Thailand."

Huawei, Oppo, and Vivo, which rounded out the top three respectively, all saw their shipments and market shares increase from 2016 to 2017. Huawei remains China's top smartphone manufacturer, commanding 9 percent of the market, but Oppo isn't far behind. The company saw its market share jump from 4.6 percent to 8.1 percent in a year's time.

While the launch of a new Galaxy or iPhone may generate plenty of hype, the data suggest that many consumers are opting for more affordable smartphones. Given the fact that these are no longer luxury products, this trend makes sense.

The real question facing Apple and Samsung is whether or not they'll be able to adjust to the changing market. Samsung, for their part, has always offered more affordable alternatives to the Galaxy S line and even Apple is said to be working on a cheaper iPhone for emerging markets such as India.

Operating Systems

In terms of operating systems, Android and iOS continue to dominate the market, with Android being used on 86.1 percent of all smartphones. iOS, on the other hand, is currently running on 13.7 percent of smartphones.

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