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Apple vs. Samsung: More Than Meets the Eye

Tickers in this article: AAPL CHL GOOG NOK RIMM

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Apple (AAPL) and Samsung remain the talk of the tech world as the two titans battle for mobile supremacy. The world may have reacted differently to Apple and Samsung's respective earnings this week, but there's more to the numbers than meets the eye.

Samsung's fourth-quarter net profit rose 76% to $6.6 billion, as "solid sales" of the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 helped boost results. The Korean firm has been one of the few Android-based handset makers to earn significant money, as it goes up against the Apple behemoth in smartphones and tablets. Samsung has been able to do this because it offers something close to what Apple offers with its iOS ecosystem, even in a fragmented Android market. Android is owned by Google (GOOG) .

Most others handset makers, including Research In Motion (RIMM) , Nokia (NOK) and others have struggled to turn profits, as consumers increasingly pick iOS (Apple) or Android.

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For most of 2012, Apple could do no wrong, dominating mindshare and seeing its stock price appreciate nearly 70%. The Cupertino, Calif.-based firm continued to turn out mind boggling results and analysts kept raising estimates. Samsung, though, was hardly lying in the woods, and kept the pressure on Apple, with new products. Consumers took notice and the flagship Galaxy S III started to take off in sales. Apple also had a busy year, refreshing several major products in a short timeframe, including the iPhone 5, iMac, Mac mini, iPad. The company also introduced the iPad mini. This, however, may have led to some consumer malaise, with customers getting "bored" of Apple products, despite Apple's ongoing innovation ending.

Since the iPhone 5 went on sale on Sept. 21, Apple shares have taken a sharp downturn, falling more than 35% as hedge funders like David Einhorn and others cut their stake in the tech giant.

AAPL ChartAAPL data by YCharts

It seems that Samsung, which reportedly shipped 63 million smartphones in the fourth-quarter, according to Strategy Analytics , is the new king of mobile tech. Apple's now the underdog as its stock continues to sink. It doesn't matter that Apple sold 47.8 million iPhones in its most recent quarter, or that it earned $13.81 per share. Apple is yesterday's news, according to some critics.

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.