By Kevin Kelleher, DailyFinance

NEW YORK ( DailyFinance) -- Rare is the company that can consider itself a true rival of Apple ( AAPL). Microsoft ( MSFT) had the honor in the 1980s and 1990s, when it adapted the Macintosh graphical user interface into Windows and became the dominant operating system provider. More recently, Google ( GOOG) has filled the role of Apple's chief foe by launching the Android mobile operating system, which is gobbling up market share in smartphones, stealing some thunder from the iPhone.

But if there's room for a new Apple rival, Samsung Electronics would like to apply for the role. Since its launch, Apple's iPad has dominated the tablet computer industry in the mainstream consumer market. Only one other tablet has garnered sufficient buzz and sales to be considered even a potential rival: Samsung's Galaxy Tab.

Samsung launched the Galaxy Tab in October and sold 1 million units in its first 60 days. Sounds impressive. But Apple more than doubled that rate, selling 2 million iPads in under 60 days, and moved 8 million overall in 2010. Caris & Co. estimates Samsung will sell 8 million Galaxy Tabs in 2011 -- still dwarfed by the 35 million iPads the research firm expects Apple to sell.
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Samsung, though, is already bigger than Apple in terms of revenue. It's forecast to report $137 billion in 2010 revenue, more than double the $65 billion Apple took in during its most recent fiscal year. But most of Samsung's income comes from semiconductors and display screens, and as Samsung noted Monday, declining prices for these commodities are hurting the company's financial health this quarter.

Mirroring Apple's Lineup

To offset those falling revenues, Samsung is looking to consumer products like smartphones and tablets. Consumer devices are a minority of Samsung's business, and its brand doesn't carry the cachet that Apple's does. But it's interesting to note that much of its consumer lineup -- mobile phones, tablets, laptops, MP3 players and smart TVs -- mirrors the lineup that Apple has been building over the past decade.

In some areas, like the emerging market for Internet-connected TVs, Samsung has a pretty good shot at competing with Apple for early market share. In others, like smartphones, its sales lag those of Apple's iPhones, but are still respectable. Samsung has sold 10 million Galaxy S phones, becoming the first Android phone to surpass that milestone.

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