Samsung and Apple, while bound by a multi-billion dollar business partnership, are also fierce enemies, especially in the mobile space where the two companies are competing both in the smartphone and tablet businesses.

Recent research studies that Samsung managed to move past Apple to become the number one smartphone maker in the world, but the race is very tight, and we’re not looking at a complete Samsung win yet.

What’s clear is that the two corporations are making a lot of money off of their mobile divisions, and a new study from ABI Research shows that between them Samsung and Apple managed to get 90% of smartphone profits in the first quarter of the year even if they only controlled 55% of the global market during the same time.

In Q1 2012, Samsung shipped 43 million smartphones globally, with Apple coming in second with 35 million devices. Thus, the two companies left everyone else way behind when it comes to total smartphone shipments: Nokia (11.9 million,) RIM (11.1 million,) Sony (7 million,) and Huawei (6.8 million). When it comes to revenue, Samsung pulled in $17 billion from its combined mobile division during the period, with Apple mobile sales amounting to $22.57 billion ($29.3 billion counting iPad sales).

What’s worth noting is that the two companies have different strategies when it comes to their mobile business. Samsung sells a plethora of smartphones running three different operating systems including Android, bada, and Windows Phone. The bulk of its mobile operation surely comes from Android device sales, although the company does not share exact sales numbers for its handsets. When it comes to Android smartphone sales, Samsung also offers customers a wide range of devices, from the high-end Galaxy S family of flagship smartphones to mid-ranged and low-end handsets meant to be a lot more budget-friendly. 

Apple on the other hand, only sells smartphones running a single operating system, its in-house made iOS, and they are all part of the iPhone family. The company does not have mid-ranged to low-end smartphones, even though Apple was rumored in the past to launch such devices, but it keeps selling older iPhones right alongside the newest model.

In addition to competing for the consumer’s cash in carrier stores, the two companies are also involved in a wide-spread patent-based legal battle that’s being actively fought over four continents in 10 different countries.

With Q2 almost over, we anticipate the Samsung Apple dominance to continue this year for quite a while, especially considering that the Galaxy S3 has been just launched and the sixth-generation iPhone is coming out soon.