The third year is a charm. The fourth year will wear thin. Apple's 4th version of the iPhone -- not to be confused with a 4G iPhone -- is due this summer, and it's not likely to be any different than the past three. Meanwhile, thinner phones have arrived like
(GOOG - Get Report)
, and bigger, brighter screens from the
have beaten Apple at its own game. No wonder why
Apple fought back
last week, charging Android phone maker
with patent violations.
Current speculation holds that the new iPhone will have a user-facing camera for video calls. One thing it won't have:
, the nation's biggest wireless camp with some 91.2 million customers.
seems to have extended its exclusive iPhone selling agreement through the end of the year, delaying the liftoff of the
Apple says it has sold 40 million iPhones and analysts estimate the company enjoys lavish 58% gross margins on the device. In comparison,
Research In Motion
sees 43% margin on its BlackBerries. The iPhone is a lucrative franchise for Apple and its strongest growth engine. But without a new market -- like the one Verizon would open up -- or a striking redesign, holding these peak levels will be a challenge.