Apple as Underdog?

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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- It's been over a week since technology giant Apple(AAPL) reminded Wall Street that its business is run by real people and not magicians .

Although the company generated both revenue and earnings per share growth of 20% for its fiscal third quarter, Apple reported a miss nonetheless.

Analysts were expecting profits of $10.38 per share on revenue of $37.23 billion. The company fell short of that mark by reporting earnings per share of $9.32 and revenue of $35 billion, representing EPS and revenue increases of 19.6% and 22.5% respectively.

Over the past five quarters, the company has averaged 55% growth in revenue. So it stands to reason that growth of (only) 20% would rattle some investor cages. However, Wall Street didn't panic all that much -- at least not to the degree that I had anticipated. The stock (only) dropped 5% on the news as cooler heads prevailed, though it was an initial concern of mine.

The company suffered from what I call "iPhone 5 cannibalization" -- anticipation of that and the iPad mini was more than likely the culprit convincing would-be buyers to postpone their purchases. However, it stands to reason that perhaps some of the company's rivals have gained market share in the process -- namely Samsung. But as I've said, as long as both products (iPhone 5 and iPad mini) live up to their billing, I doubt anyone will remember Apple's disappointing third quarter.

But it makes me wonder what type of impact tablet announcements from Google(GOOG) and Microsoft(MSFT) might have on Apple sales. Not to mention that Amazon(AMZN) plans to introduce a larger version of its popular Kindle Fire.

It seems a bit odd to treat Apple as if it is suddenly an underdog. Its job this coming quarter is to continue with the tradition of producing breathtaking products and restore some sense of normal.

However, since the company also attributed some of its lost revenue to concerns surrounding Europe, it is hard to say it is suddenly losing market share, at least not without some meaningful data. It is much too early to say that Google's Nexus 7 tablet is having any sort of impact while Microsoft's Surface has yet to launch.

This leaves Research in Motion (RIMM) and Nokia(NOK) , two names that have been on life support over the past two years.

Clearly, Apple is not losing its luster but it is taking a much-needed breather. But it needs to wake up. I can say this confidently, even though it concerned me somewhat that the company acknowledged the possibility of slowing growth.

That said, with no clear evidence its growth is being eaten away by its rivals, I think it would open a new set of story lines that analysts have long been afraid to discuss -- market saturation.