SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Inc has launched a trade-in programme in its U.S. retail stores for older models of its iPhone as it gears up for the launch of a new version of the smartphone, it said on Friday.

Apple will give customers a credit for their old phones to be used toward the purchase of a new model, an Apple spokeswoman said.

A thriving industry exists for older versions of smartphones, especially the iPhone, on websites such as eBay and Gazelle. Even broken iPhones can fetch as much as $125 (80.69 pounds) from vendors, who resell them in the United States and internationally.

Gazelle Chief Executive Israel Ganot estimated the used smartphone and tablet market in the United States will reach $14 billion by 2015.

"So there's obviously a huge opportunity here for multiple players," he said.

Apple shares dipped nearly 1 percent to $487.46.

(Reporting by Poornima Gupta; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

 

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