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Is the Apple Inc. and Samsung 'Slump' Good News for Competitors?


BlackBerry and Nokia are among those hoping to take advantage of weak sales among the tech leaders.

For the first time in two months, Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock price dipped below the $400 mark this week, following some worrying sentiments about iPhone 5 from tech analysts.

Oppenheimer's Ittai Kidron lowered his quarterly earnings estimates for Apple to $35 billion in revenue from $36 billion, saying that "our checks [are] already showing signs of delayed iPhone 5 purchases."

Jefferies also lowered its price target on Apple to $405 from $420, noting that "our checks indicate broad-based iPhone build plan cuts," which meshes with the findings of Oppenheimer.

While Apple appears to be losing some steam, it's not all smooth sailing for chief smartphone rival, Samsung (OTCMKTS:SSNLF), either. Shares of the Korean company tanked earlier in the month on reports that its much-hyped Galaxy S4 was not selling as strongly as previously hoped.

"Compared to S3, S4 had stronger momentum in the first quarter of launch," said JPMorgan Chase analyst JJ Park to AllThingsD. "But the following quarter's shipment is expected to be disappointing and its peak-quarter number seems way below our previous estimates."

Similarly, Wedge Partners' Jun Zhang also said that he thinks sales of S4 have fallen 20% short of Samsung's target.

So, with two leading smartphone titans struggling a little at the moment, has space in the market opened up for their competitors?

BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) would surely hope so. Its second-quarter report was posted this morning, but the longer-term success of BlackBerry surely hinges more on its upcoming Q5 smartphone. A lower-priced device targeted at emerging markets, the Q5 is BlackBerry's attempt at regaining its lost market share.

"[BlackBerry] has a unique ecosystem and will carve its own little niche in the space. BlackBerry has nothing to fear from anyone except itself. It is not threatened by Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), or Apple, or anyone. As long as it has something different to offer and stand out, it will prevail and do just fine," commented George Kesarios at Seeking Alpha.

For Nokia (NYSE:NOK), emerging markets might also prove to be its salvation. The company's lower-end Asha phones, which run the Nokia S40 operating system, "deliver fantastic functionality and quality for the price asked," wrote Richard Windsor of tech blog Radio Free Mobile.

Windsor added that although what smartphone buyers "seem to care about at the moment is the largest screen for the lowest possible price… In the longer term, Nokia has the right characteristics to be a dominant low-end handset supplier, and as long as it can hang on through the tough times, life should be much sweeter on the other side."

In developed markets, Nokia's fortunes appear to be improving too as its Lumia series gains traction thanks to the slowly but surely improving popularity of Windows (NASDAQ:MSFT) phones. By 2017, Windows phones will grab some 12.7% of worldwide smartphone shipments, projected research firm Canalys shows.

Of course, the smartphone market changes rapidly, and Apple or Samsung or another Android-based company could release a paradigm-changing blockbuster product that changes the market the way Motorola (NYSE:MMI) did with Razr and Apple did with the iPhone. But it seems clear that the short-lived age of the Apple/Samsung hegemony is all but over.

Also see:

Foxconn Technology Co., Ltd. Debuts Smartphone-Friendly Wristband

Is Nintendo Co., Ltd the New BlackBerry?

Apple Inc. May Have Opened Pandora's Box With iOS 7

Twitter: @sterlingwong

Disclosure: Minyanville Studios has a business relationship with BlackBerry.
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