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) --


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impending first-quarter launch of the


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iPhone is impeding fourth-quarter sales of the telco's current supply of phones.

Verizon stores have been a little quieter than normal this holiday season, according to two wireless analysts. One explanation could be the customary lull that comes after Black Friday and before the last-minute gift-buying spree leading up to Christmas.

But another reason is one that seems to be looming particularly large over the market right now: the

Verizon iPhone


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"Upgrades at Verizon have been steadily declining in anticipation of the iPhone," said mobile industry strategist Michael Cote, of the Cote Collaborative. A lot of Verizon subscribers have been letting their contracts expire without replacing their phones, he said.

And while this has been a big trend at Verizon, it's been gaining steam across the industry. "There's been an increasing percentage of people that are holding off on new phone purchases at other carriers also," Cote said. If Apple has its way, the iPhone will be available at all the major U.S. carriers --


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and Verizon -- early next year.

Also working against Verizon is the fact that unlike in years past, there isn't a blockbuster phone on hand to capture people's attention this holiday season.

The phone on everyone's mind isn't coming until early next year. And perhaps that's the silver lining. Presumably, the

rush to the Verizon iPhone

next quarter will more than compensate for the all the holdouts this quarter.

--Written by Scott Moritz in New York.>To contact this writer, click here: Scott Moritz, or email: follow Scott on Twitter, go to>To send a tip, email: