NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Motorola's ( MOT) Android-powered comeback bid faces a crushing foe next year as Apple's ( AAPL) iPhone goes to Verizon ( VZ).

But investors are hoping that when the wireless tech giant reports third quarter earnings before the bell Thursday, the numbers will be strong and the impact of the Verizon iPhone is still months away.
Motorola

A big performance will certainly help alleviate some worry. Motorola shares have fallen 6% in the past month on concerns that its three-way partnership with Google's ( GOOG) Android and Verizon's Droid campaign has lost some luster ahead of the Apple iPhone arrival in January.

Two analysts warned last week that Motorola's smartphone sales may be a little lighter than the 3.7 million Wall Street is expecting. In light of Verizon's slowdown in wireless subscriber growth reported last week, there might be some reason to heed the caution.

For the third quarter, analysts are expecting Motorola to post a profit of 11 cents a share on sales of $5.66 billion. That revenue mark is less than 4% above year-ago levels.

Analysts will be keeping a close eye on the average sale price of Motorola's phones as an indicator of whether the higher-priced Droid phones are advancing or if mid-range phones are taking off. The estimated average price (ASP) is $215.

Not everyone is bearish on Motorola, however.

MKM Partners analyst Tero Kuittinen upgraded Motorola to a buy Wednesday.

Kuittinen says this is a good time to look ahead at Motorola's Android push at AT&T ( T). Just as Droids may be getting less support from Verizon ahead of the iPhone, AT&T will likely get behind Motorola to offset the loss of its exclusive iPhone deal, says Kuittinen.

--Written by Scott Moritz in New York.

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