Analysts vie for best prediction on Apple iPhone sales in previous quarter

Apple's fiscal first quarter 2012 appears to be a banner quarter, analysts agree. But by how much? It depends on the number of iPhones sold, they say.

Apple's fiscal first quarter 2012 appears to be a banner quarter, analysts agree. But by how much? It depends on the number of iPhones sold, they say.

Fortune's Apple 2.0 blog recently pulled together predictions from some 40 analysts, professional and layman.

As usual, the estimates of the independent analysts are higher than the pros (see here for why), but even the most pessimistic expect Apple to report record unit sales.

The numbers from the 22 Wall Street analysts who have responded so far to our call for estimates range from a high of 35 million iPhones from BTIG's Walter Piecyk to a low of 25.2 million from Gabelli's Hendi Susanto. The average among this group is 29.74 million, which would represent a year-over-year increase of  83 percent.

One of the more interesting parts of the story is a giant grid showing the analysts predictions, as well as the date of the estimate and the quality of past predictions for the previous four quarters. It appears that Q4 2011 was a tough one for some of the "reliable" analysts. Some who were reliably in the Top Ten fell 30 or more spots.

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