Updated from 10:47 a.m. EST to provide market expectations comments in the sixth paragraph.
Verizon, the New York-based telecom giant, which reported earnings earlier this morning, said it activated 7.5 million smartphones during the second quarter, with roughly 51% of them being iPhones. That implies 3.825 million iPhones were sold on Verizon's network during the quarter, ahead of what many on Wall Street were expecting.
There is some room for leeway here, as BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk tweeted there were 3.9 million iPhone activations from Verizon, which beat his 3.5 million estimate.
$VZ iPhone acts of 3.9 mil beat our est of 3.5 mil as $AAPL smartphone share remained over 50%.— Walter Piecyk (@WaltBTIG) July 18, 2013Whether the number is 3.825 million or 3.9 million, that's still pretty healthy growth year over year, hovering around 40%. Many have been concerned the iPhone, and the smartphone market in general, are slowing down and starting to mature. It's too difficult to read too much into one carrier's numbers, as Apple has a slew of carriers around the world that support the iPhone. In the United States alone, there are 28 carriers that support the iPhone, but Verizon is one of the largest so it carries some weight. Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White noted that Verizon has accounted for approximately 11% of Apple's iPhone shipments over the past seven quarters. With iPhone sales being exceptionally strong this quarter, he offers a possible explanation. "Based on our current iPhone estimates, Verizon would account for approximately 13.6% of iPhone sales in 2QCY13," White wrote in the note. "Either Verizon is doing much better than other carriers this quarter or our iPhone estimates are conservative." He rates Apple a "buy" with a $888 price target. In a research note, Wells Fargo analyst Maynard Um noted the Verizon iPhone number, based off previous mix, could imply as many as 34.7 million iPhones for the June quarter. Um is currently expecting 26 million iPhones, so that's a huge variance, or delta, in terms of what the market is expecting. It'll be interesting to see how many iPhones were sold during Apple's fiscal third quarter and what fourth-quarter guidance looks like, ahead of the expected iPhone 5S release. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expect Apple to earn $7.31 a share on $35.09 billion in sales. Shares of Apple were higher in Thursday trading, up 0.48% to $432.37. -- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York >Contact by Email. Follow @Chris_Ciaccia