With the holiday season just around the corner, handset manufacturers are counting on a strong finish to the 2011 sales year. And with smartphones and other mobile gadgets likely topping millions of wish lists this December, it’s a fairly feasible expectation.

But of all of the tech companies in the mobile market, Apple likely has the most riding on a successful fourth quarter; considering it forecasted nearly $40 billion dollars ($10 billion higher than any previous quarter) in revenue for the three month period…

During its quarterly earnings call earlier this month, Apple announced that it earned $28 billion in revenue — a record for the company. Perhaps that’s why analysts dropped their jaws when Tim Cook publicly predicted a $37 billion closeout quarter for the Mac-makers.

Apple generally low-balls its forecasts, so needless to say, this was out of character. But with another hit product on the market, and more handsets available on more carriers than ever before, the Cupertino company has a pretty good chance of hitting its mark.

In fact, even though Apple missed Wall Street’s expectations last quarter, it still dominated smartphone sales in the US. BGR points to iPhone sales on the top two US wireless carriers over the last three months:

“Of the 5.6 million smartphone Verizon Wireless sold last quarter, 2 million were iPhones. At AT&T, 2.7 million iPhones were sold out of a total of 4.8 million smartphones. Combined, Apple’s iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS made up just over 45% of all smartphones sold by the nation’s top two carriers…and this was in a bad quarter.”

Given this information, and the fact that three US carriers are now offering multiple models of the iPhone, it’s conceivable to think that Apple’s handset could make up over 50% of all smartphone sales on the country’s top three carriers this holiday season.

That certainly won’t be enough to earn the company $40 billion dollars, but it’s a hell of a start.