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Friday, March 14, 2014, 07:12 am PT (10:12 am ET)

Apple's iPhone is most-desired smartphone in emerging markets, passing Samsung

While many customers in emerging markets may not be able to afford an iPhone, they'd still prefer it over competing devices running Google's Android, including handsets from Apple rival Samsung, a recent survey reveals.



Consumers in Brazil, China, India, Nigeria and Vietnam were polled by Upstream and Ovum about their smartphone of choice, and the results show that Apple is the most desired brand among consumers, with a 32 percent share. Samsung came in second with 29 percent, followed by Nokia in third with 13 percent.

The results of the survey, highlighted this week by Bloomberg, show that Samsung was topped from the top spot by Apple in 2013. It also indicates that although many customers in those markets cannot afford an iPhone, they would prefer to buy one if they could.Consumer desire for Samsung phones in emerging markets fell 32% to 29% in 2013, while Apple surged from 21% to 32%.

The numbers are a big change from 2012, when 32 percent of customers said they would prefer to own a Samsung phone, while just 21 percent of those surveyed said they wanted Apple's iPhone.

Still, low-cost devices running Google's Android remain the default choice for many, with the survey revealing Android devices were three times more popular in terms of actual usage than handsets running Apple's iOS platform.

Apple has taken particular interest in emerging markets, particularly China, Brazil and India, in recent years, with the belief that most future smartphone growth will come from developing nations. That helped lead speculation that Apple might develop a new low-cost smartphone to address the low end of the market, but the company instead last year released the iPhone 5c, which turned out to be a mid-range handset still out of the price range of many customers.

And while Android leads in market share, Apple's control of the high end of the smartphone market makes it dominant in profit share, with recent statistics showing the Cupertino, Calif., company earned 87.4 percent of global handset profits in the December quarter. Samsung came in second place with 32.2 percent of profits, and the two leaders exceeded 100 percent share as other companies actually saw losses in the quarter.