Samsung also hopes to get into the "class" end of the market with new "wraparound displays" that put function keys on the side of the phone. Apple, meanwhile, may abandon Corning  (GLW), the maker of its past displays, for a new technology based on artificial sapphire. Apple is also targeting Samsung's share in India and China through new agreements with carriers aimed at bringing down the upfront cost of its phones.

The result is that, despite Apple's successful monetization of its iPhone and iPad, UBS has a neutral rating on the stock, even though Apple has a below-average price-to-earnings ratio of 13.2 and a $3.05-per-share dividend that now yields 2.34%. 

Samsung is doing precisely what Microsoft  (MSFT), which now has 4% of the mobile market, did to Apple more than two decades ago. Apple was years ahead of the pack with its Macintosh PC, but Microsoft was able to make the business market wait for Windows through alliances with companies such as IBM (IBM), in part thanks to high Apple prices, and it eventually dominated the market.

But it's not Google that's Microsoft in this case. And it's certainly not Microsoft that's Microsoft in this case. It's Samsung. That's the story investors need to watch in 2014.

At the time of publication, Blankenhorn owned shares of Apple, Google and IBM.



This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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