The knives have been well and truly out for Apple ahead of today's earnings call, with analysts predicting relatively weak numbers. Yet, Verizon, AT&T and others are reporting huge iPhone sales in their latest reports as earnings season gets into top gear, but that might not be enough to help push Apple's usually stellar numbers. 

 All Eyes on Apple

In the true spirit of build them up and knock 'em down, Apple has seen its share price tumble in recent months as market movers view the company as having plateaued, at least in North America. While Apple eyes the wide open markets of China and plans ahead with its next generation of devices, manipulators might be looking to cheapen the stock to buy more of it, to snap up Apple's dividends or for other stock-related shenanigans.

While the stock price hovers around $500, focus turns to Apple's earnings which will be announced at 2PM PST today by Tim Cook and co. If Apple's sales have remained high in its usually bountiful holiday quarter, then expect a mild return to form. However, the CEO will have to address Apple's stagnating market share and the continued success of Samsung (preparing to launch the Galaxy S4) and the likely revival of Nokia and BlackBerry.

Verizon has just reported sales of 6.2 million iPhones up almost 50% on last year, and 62% of all smartphone sales for the telco. However, half of that number were for iPhone 5 sales, as buyers opted for cheaper, older yet perfectly capable iPhone 4 and 4S models, which will affect Apple's average selling price. 

No News Won't Be Good News

While Apple never gives product news at its financial briefings, analysts and journalists on the call will be pushing to see what Apple will do to repel the attacks on its market share from all areas. Sony has said it is abandoning the low end to focus on just a couple of high-end smartphones with the Xperia Z and recently announced the slimmest tablet model yet. 

Learning Opportunities

Nokia as flagship for Windows Phone 8 has seen sales rise and will have high hopes for the Lumia 610 mid-range model to claw back yet more market share. RIM is on a bit of a marketing blitz ahead of the BlackBerry 10 launch. And there are plenty of other players all aiming to nibble away at Apple and Samsung at the top of the tree, with Firefox wading in this week with its new OS and the potential for phones running it. 

What can Apple do to respond? The latest rumor is a iPhone Math model, which sounds like it could be aimed at the student market, and presumably suitably priced. But having taken its time to bring out the iPad mini, Apple will likely continue at its own steady pace on iPhone 6, iPad 5, Apple TV and so on.

After all, it has the huge cash reserves and brand loyalty to ignore any shareholder and market pressure, but any sign of weakness will be blown out of all proportion and result in further rumors, until the day of an actual Apple launch. So, just another fun day in the world of Apple watching.