Has the iPhone Lost Its Luster? The iPhone 5 Only Half of Verizon’s Q4 iPhone Sales

Apple can stick to its guns all it wants by refusing to release a lower-cost iPhone model, but at some point, the Cupertino company has to face the reality that the iPhone isn't the trend-setting device it once was. Remember when the iPhone was a status symbol and the coolest handset on the block? Now it's merely a symbol of someone who's invested in iOS, because unlike before, there are plenty of awesome alternatives to choose from.

Let's look at Verizon's fourth quarter results. Verizon sold a record number of iPhones in Q4, a clear indication that they're still wildly popular. However, only half of them were the latest iPhone 5 model. Why would so many smartphone shoppers buy an older model iPhone when the iPhone 5 is a superior device?

iPhone 5

It's all about the Benjamins. Buyers were clearly influenced by price drops on older model handsets, most of which didn't see a compelling reason to spend more on an iPhone 5. Apple can take that information and do one of two things.

Number one, Apple could give users what they apparently want: a lower cost iPhone. It's been rumored that this is already in the works, though one senior exec at Apple has since insisted that a lower cost iPhone would "never be the future of Apple products."

Option two, then, is to build a better iPhone, one that trumps the competition in nearly every way so that buyers will be compelled to spend more on the latest and greatest. There has to be significant separation between the next iPhone model and the iPhone 5, or smartphone shoppers are just going to keep investing in older hardware. Or jump ship to Android.