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Apple announced its third quarter earnings today. The company made $35 billion in revenue, or $9.32 per diluted share, falling behind analyst expectations.

Apple earned $8.8 billion in profits, $1.5 billion more than the same quarter in 2011. Apple sold 26 million iPhones this quarter and 17 million iPads. It also sold another four million Macs. By comparison, last quarter Apple sold 35.1 million iPhones and 11.8 million iPads. (See Apple’s Q3 by the numbers.) The company’s stock is down five percent in after hours trading at the time of this post.

In other words, we’re starting to see the slowdown in iPhone sales, as analysts expected, though iPads are likely to continue to impress as Apple recently released the tablet in China.

“Given what’s going on around us, we are happy with our quarter,” said Apple chief financial officer Peter Oppenheimer on the earnings call today. “We did think some things did impact us in the quarter. The economy in Europe is not doing well. … We’re reading the same rumors and speculation about a new iPhone and we think this has caused some pause in customers purchasing [the phone].”

He went on to note that Apple did not get the benefit of launching the iPad in China on time due to regulatory approvals, which slowed down growth as well.

Apple will also pay its first dividend since 1995 of $2.65 per share n August 16, 2012. The company first announced the dividend plan in March.

Analysts did not have the highest hopes for Apple this quarter to begin with. The company beat market estimates in both the first and second quarters of its 2012 fiscal calendar, but rumors of an impending iPhone 5 release have analysts convinced this quarter won’t be as strong. Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S estimated that Apple would bring in $37.2 billion in revenue, along with $10.35 a share. Apple itself gave conservative estimates during its second quarter earnings call, putting expected revenue at $34 billion and $8.68 a share.

The company disappointed the Thomson Reuters estimates, but beat its own expectations. For the fourth quarter, Apple expects to make $34 billion in revenue, as well as $7.65 per share.

Since the iPhone’s advent in 2007, Apple has set a trend of annually releasing a new model. Most of these new iPhones were launched at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), which happens in June, but the company released its most recent model, the iPhone 4S, in October, 2011. Now that WWDC is over, people are looking toward the fall time frame for a new iPhone, and as a result are not buying the current model.

The iPhone and iPad continue to pay for developers, however. Oppenheimer announced on the earnings call today that Apple has paid out $5.5 billion to iOS developers to date. (Read more about the iOS ecosystem’s health.)

Apple was otherwise busy this quarter with WWDC in June. There, it announced its latest mobile operating system, iOS 6, which will be launched this fall. The time frame for this new operating system gives another hint as to when we might see a revamped iPhone. The company also introduced a new 15″ Macbook Pro with the same Retina display on the latest iPad.

Apple also announced that Mountain Lion, its latest Mac operating system, will be available to everyone tomorrow.

Photo: Heather Kelly/VentureBeat

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