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Apple vs. Samsung: More Than Meets the Eye

Despite the troubles, though, all's not as rosy as it seems for Samsung, and not as bleak as it seems for Apple. In its forward guidance, Samsung noted that it expects the global smartphone market to decelerate in the first-quarter of 2013, calling it "pacified." Apple's obviously aware of this trend, but made no mention of it in the company's somewhat peculiar guidance this week. Samsung's already the dominant player in China, where it owns 29% of the market, according to research firm IDC. Apple is second, owning 21.8%, but there's one major caveat. Apple has no official relationship with the world's largest mobile carrier, China Mobile (CHL). Samsung, however, does.

Apple's certainly working to change this, as it realizes the importance of China for the growth of the company. Apple CEO Tim Cook and China Mobile Chairman Xi Guohua recently discussed "matters of cooperation." Earlier this week Apple also broke down revenue from Greater China (China, Hong Kong and Taiwan) for the first time, which came in at $6.83 billion for the quarter, up 67% year-over-year. Sequentially it looks a little worse, up just 26%, but the iPhone 5, fourth-generation iPad and iPad mini were not released in China until mid December.

On the earnings call, Cook noted that Apple's performing better than the local market. "In terms of the geographic distribution, we saw our highest growth in China and it was into the triple digits, which was higher than the market there. And so, I would characterize it as we are extremely pleased." He noted Apple has much, much, more to do China, with only 11 Apple Stores, adding that many more will be opened.

Apple has become the underdog in this fight, with Samsung now taking the mobile crown. Apple, of course, has been the underdog before, almost going bankrupt in the late 1990's. Perhaps that's why it hoards its enormous $137 billion cash hoard.

Both companies continue to dominate the mobile market, with 51% of handsets sold in the fourth-quarter, according to IDC. For now, though, Samsung has all the momentum and Apple can seemingly do no right.

History shows us that it's wrong to bet against Apple long-term and that's without the potential upside of "one more thing."

Interested in more on Apple? See TheStreet Ratings' report card for this stock.

-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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