The War Between Apple and Samsung Is Just Getting Started

We already knew the Samsung Galaxy S III was gaining traction. Now we know just how big a drag it's been on iPhone sales. Juniper Research in the U.K. says Samsung sold 56.3 million smartphones in the third quarter. Apple (NAS: AAPL) sold 26.9 million handsets over the same period.

Of the estimated 157 million smartphone sold in Q3, Samsung accounted for 35.9% of shipments versus 17.1% for Apple. Juniper didn't break out distinct handset sales in its press announcement, except to say that the S III accounted for 18 million -- or 32% -- of Samsung's smartphone unit sales during the quarter.

Meanwhile, Nokia (NYS: NOK) suffered from a dearth of Windows Phone sales in shipping 63% fewer smart devices than in last year's third quarter, while Research In Motion's (NAS: RIMM) 7.7 million units sold "hint at continuing problems," Juniper said.

And in a nod to the obvious, the firm advised investors to keep a close watch on Apple, which it expects to "better its sales in the fourth quarter" thanks to the release of the iPhone 5. All signs point to the U.S. smartphone market crown coming down to a tussle between Apple and Samsung.

The tablet market may be another story, even if Samsung has big ambitions in this area. The Frankenstorm known as Hurricane Sandy forced Google (NAS: GOOG) to postpone an event rumored to be the launching pad for a new Samsung-built Nexus tablet.

Yet it might not have mattered. Third-party reports already show Microsoft's (NAS: MSFT) Surface tablet sold out on pre-order before Friday's launch at retail stores. Similarly, pre-orders of the low-end black and slate model of iPad Mini sold out within their first 35 hours on Apple's digital shelves.

Can a new Nexus tab achieve that kind of momentum? Can anyone stop the iPad from dominating the tablet market in the same way Samsung currently dominates smartphone sales? Senior technology analyst and managing bureau chief, Eric Bleeker, calls tablets one of his top three areas to watch when it comes to Apple. He's also prepared a comprehensive research report that will fill you in on what opportunities are left for Apple (and more importantly, your portfolio) going forward. Just click here now to get your copy instantly.

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Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission. He owned shares of Apple and Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's web home, portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Google+ or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Google and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a synthetic covered call position in Microsoft. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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