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Has Apple hit the 10 millionth iPhone mark?

Several bloggers using unofficial manufacturing data claim the company has surpassed its goal of selling more than 10 million of the popular gadgets.

Has Apple really sold its 10 millionth iPhone? That's what several bloggers are saying. But a closer look suggests that it might be a bit too early to pop open the champagne.

Apple

A joint project of AFB and Investor Village's AAPL Sanity has been collecting data about iPhone inventory. Using a Google spreadsheet, the group has been unofficially tracking iPhone production estimates using International Mobile Equipment Identity, or IMEI, numbers that are used to uniquely identify every GSM, UMTS, or iDEN mobile phone.

According to the spreadsheet, AFB is reporting that 9,190,680 iPhone units have been created, which my colleague Jason D. O'Grady at ZDNet estimates could mean that about 7.6 million iPhone 3G have already been sold and more than 10 million iPhones in total.

But O'Grady and others point out that these numbers may be misleading.

The groups gathering the data explicitly point out that these are production estimates, not sales estimates. This means the figures also include Apple Retail Store inventory, store displays, and replacement units, which do not count as sales.

This might explain why Apple has been mum on the whole thing. But this is not to say that the iPhone hasn't been selling well. In fact, market research firm NPD Group said Monday that 30 percent of smartphone buyers this summer left their existing carrier to get an iPhone 3G.