Apple could offer customers an option to trade in their older iPhones for credit towards the purchase of a new model in an effort to boost sales of the iPhone 5, according to a report from Bloomberg. This would be the first time that Apple has offered a trade-in option on the iPhone. The program is allegedly being run by Brightstar, a large distributor of mobile phones, which already runs AT&T and T-Mobile's trade-in programs. Apple has offered a recycling program for iPhones, iPads, Macs, or PCs, for some time, but it has never given customers a flat price trade-in value on the recycled equipment. The used iPhones would then be sold in emerging markets where demand for iPhones is lower because of their higher cost. Customers would only be able to trade in their phones at Apple retail stores, and they would not have to ship the phones or wait for reimbursements through the mail.

Apple has been rumored to offer a lower-cost version of the iPhone for some time, but new models aren't expected to arrive until later this year. The company's big WWDC developer event is scheduled for next Monday, but Apple is only expected to show off a redesigned version of its iOS operating system at that time, and not announce new iPhone hardware.

Trade-ins could boost sales at home and boost Apple's marketshare abroad

Though Apple has faced stiff competition from Samsung in the mobile phone space, it has still managed to sell tens of millions of iPhones each quarter, and the launch of the iPhone 5 last fall was nothing short of a resounding success. But competitors have launched very compelling devices in the time since the iPhone 5's launch, and a trade-in option could boost sales of the iPhone before they get juiced by the arrival of a new model, not to mention the boost it could give Apple in developing markets where lower-cost devices are much more popular.