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the grant depends on shareholder returns versus a basket of Apple's corporate peers, including Cisco Systems Inc and Google Inc.
But Apple has come under increasing strain from rivals like Samsung Electronics and Huawei in key markets, while Amazon.com Inc and other manufacturers are using Google's Android software to launch competing tablets.
Apple's profit and margins slid in the September quarter despite selling 33.8 million iPhones. Sources have said demand for the $100 cheaper, brightly hued iPhone 5C has severely lagged sales for the top-tier 5S, spurring concerns about the iPhone's market positioning and its ability to compete with a growing profusion of lower-cost rivals.
This month, it finally secured a deal with China Mobile after protracted negotiations, a deal that should enlarge its footprint in the world's largest telecoms market.