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Apple iPhone sales numbers creep out before its earnings report

Apple is dangerously close to revealing its fourth quarter earnings report for the tail end of 2012, and some companies are coming forward to paint a picture of what iPhone sales have been like during the holiday shopping season.

On Tuesday, Verizon Wireless announced that it activated 6.2 million iPhone units in the fourth quarter, Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo said to CNET. The wireless carrier activated a total of 9.8 million smartphones over the course of Q4 2012, with about 3.6 million of those being Android devices. Verizon didn’t specify exactly how many of these Apple devices were iPhone 5 handsets, but it did say that half of the iOS-enabled phones that were activated over the last quarter were able to tap into its 4G LTE network. This suggests that the other half is comprised of lower priced iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S models.

When it comes to overall smartphone sales for last quarter of 2012, Apple’s iPhone reportedly accounted for a whopping 51.2 percent of mobile phone transactions in the United States. This news comes from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, which released data suggesting that Apple dominated the smartphone front at the close of 2012.

“Apple’s continual improvement is thanks to both the iPhone 5 and older models attracting various customer groups, from repeat Apple buyers, first-time smartphone buyers, and those coming from other smartphone brands,” Mary-Ann Parlato, Kantar Worldpanel ComTech analyst, said in a statement.

The recently released data also implies that a portion of these sales comes from users switching from other platforms. Over the past year, 36 percent of iOS sales in the United States have been from customers already using smartphones, most notably Android.

Google’s mobile operating system came in as a close second to Apple, with Android accounting for 44.8 percent of smartphone sales for Q4 2012. Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform, however, only measured in at 2.6 percent despite the launch of its brand new Windows Phone 8 OS.

While Apple has seen a robust year in terms of iPhone sales, especially in the fourth quarter, some analysts have forecast a decline in the company’s earnings and stock value. As the Wall Street Journal reports, a trio of UBS analysts have lowered their estimate for the average selling price of the iPhone due to a lack of interest in certain models.

According to these experts, data has shown that demand for storage has decreased from about 30GB with the previous iPhone 4S to 20GB with the iPhone 5. Fewer customers are choosing to purchase the 64GB editions of the iPhone 5, and demand for older variants in general has risen from 33 percent during the 4S’ lifecycle to 50 percent in the iPhone 5’s thus far. In turn, the analysts have cut their earnings per share estimate for 2013 from $44.68 to $47, and their price target has been slashed to $650 from $700.

It’s clear that the tech community is anxious to see how Apple’s iPhone sold last quarter, and we’ll be interested to see Apple’s fourth quarter earnings tomorrow.