Despite the fact that iPhone sales were up year-over-year last quarter, the numbers failed to impress Wall Street. Apple missed analysts’ projections by about 3 million handsets.

The company’s Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer cited a number of reasons for the miss on today’s earnings call. Among them, was persistent next-gen iPhone rumors…

Here’s Peter’s response to a question from Sanford Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi regarding Apple’s biggest challenges last quarter:

“…We do think some things did impact us in the quarter, so let me comment on that. The economy in Europe is not doing well. We think this impacted our results. We also saw some economic impact in the natural resource-based economies including Australia, Brazil and Canada.

As Tim discussed, regarding the iPhone, we’re reading the same rumors and speculation that you are, about a new iPhone. And we think this has caused some pause in customers purchasing…”

And here’s what Tim Cook had to say about new iPhone chatter:

“We try very hard to keep our product roadmaps secret and confidential, we do extreme activities to try and do that. That however, doesn’t stop people from speculating or wondering, and will never do that. That’s the great thing about this country, people can say what they think, and so forth. So, I’m not going to spend any energy trying to change that. That’s just the environment we’re in.

I’m glad that people want the next thing. I’m super happy about it. There are obviously quite a few that want what we’re currently doing as well, as witnessed by the amount of products that we’re selling. So I’m not going to put any energy into trying to get people to stop speculating. I don’t think that’s going to amount to anything.”

To me, Apple seems to be on a set schedule these days — a new iPad in the spring, a new iPhone in the fall. So speculation or not, it seems like a large amount of consumers would still avoid purchasing a new phone or tablet around these times.

What do you think?