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iPhone grabs a bigger slice of US phone market in wake of Note 7 debacle

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Missing headphone jack is apparently a 'non-issue' for Americans

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The US smartphone market is dominated by two big brands, Apple and Samsung, and when one of them flubs its lines, the other one stands to benefit in a substantial way. To wit, the latest quarterly data from Kantar Worldpanel, which breaks sales down on a country-by-country basis, shows Apple's iOS rising to a 40.5 percent share of US smartphone sales. That's up 7 percentage points, or more than a fifth, on the same quarter (ending in October) last year, and appears to be explained in large part by Samsung's disastrous Galaxy Note 7 release and subsequent recall.

The instrumental influence of the Note 7's demise is best illustrated by looking at what happened in markets where Samsung isn't as prominent. iPhone sales in urban China, for example, declined on a yearly basis, even with the new iPhone 7 models on sale. Facing stiffer competition from local Android rivals like the rising Oppo, Apple commanded 17.1 percent of Chinese sales in the third quarter, down from 22.5 the year before. And in Europe, where Samsung didn't even release the Galaxy Note last year, the absence of the new Note 7 was less prominently felt, with the iPhone losing some ground in Germany, falling 2.7 percentage points to 16.5 percent.

It's tough to be sure whether German consumers were left underwhelmed by the latest generation's upgrades or fuming about the removal of a headphone jack, but Kantar's analysts are certain that "the lack of the headphone jack has proved to be a non-issue for US iPhone consumers." The iPhone 7 was the top-selling smartphone in Apple's native market, followed by the iPhone 6S, Samsung Galaxy S7, and the iPhone 7 Plus.

Google's new Pixel smartphone also figured in Kantar's numbers, and even though it was only on sale for a few days at the end of the relevant quarter, it somehow managed to match Microsoft and Huawei's total US sales:

"Google achieved 0.5% of smartphone sales, a strong showing given that the Pixel was only widely available from October 20th. In that short time, Google has reached market parity with more established brands like Huawei and Microsoft, who are also at 0.5%."

For Huawei, which sells more phones under its Honor brand in the States, that's understandable, whereas for Microsoft it's illustrative of a company abandoning its efforts as a smartphone maker.