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3 Dates for Apple Inc. (AAPL) Investors to Circle: Research In Motion Ltd (BBRY), Google Inc (GOOG)

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Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) did it. The tech giant made it through a week in which Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S4 and Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) announced a record purchase order as plans for the stateside release of its new Z10 firmed up.

And Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) didn’t just survive last week. It outright thrived. Shares rose 2.8%, leaving this month’s 52-week low of $419 shrinking in the rearview mirror.

Apple Inc. (AAPL)It’s OK to exhale, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) investors — for now. The coast isn’t exactly clear. There are plenty of upcoming challenges, and it’s never too early to start circling dates before the bears close in again.

March 22

AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) , the first wireless carrier on the planet to sell the original iPhone, will also start selling BlackBerry’s Z10 on Friday. Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) follows six days later, and the country’s two largest wireless service providers are already taking preorders for the phone that features the bar-raising BlackBerry 10 mobile operating system.

It’s a safe bet that BlackBerry was referring to either AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) or Verizon Wireless when it revealed a few days ago that it received the first purchase order for a million smartphones in company history.

Apple’s iOS seems locked into second place in mobile operating systems. It’s not going to catch up to Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)‘s Android, and BlackBerry 10, Windows Phone 8, and other overseas flavors lag safely behind. However, Apple still needs to keep on top of every rollout.

April 23

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) will report its fiscal second-quarter results next month, on or around April 23.

The fallen tech darling’s reports used to be a time to celebrate. Apple would blow past its intentionally conservative guidance. Analysts would scramble to push their targets higher. The process would repeat itself three months later.

Life has been far more challenging during the Tim Cook era. Apple has come up short against Wall Street’s profit targets in three of the past six quarters, missing the mark in two of the three previous periods.

Investors will gravitate to Apple’s margins in the report. The company’s once chunky margins have been contracting as consumers choose lower-margin iPad Mini and iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S devices over full-sized iPads and iPhone 5 smartphones. The end result is that analysts now see profitability declining by 17% for the quarter on a modest 9% revenue increase.

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