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Friday, September 22, 2006, 09:30 am PT (12:30 pm ET)

74 percent of European Apple faithful seek iPhone

During this month's Apple Expo in Paris, analysts from PiperJaffray polled 50 European Apple customers about their interested in an iPhone that holds 1,000 songs and found that 74 percent indicated they have a highly likely of buying such a product.

"Price is clearly a consideration, however, and many customers indicated that they feel that an iPhone has the same value as Apple's high capacity iPods," Sr. analyst Gene Munster wrote in his second research note of friday morning. "Specifically, the 74 percent who would be highly likely to purchase an iPhone said that, on average, they would pay $285 for such a product. This is consistent with our thinking that Apple must price an iPhone in the $300 range to gain significant traction with the product."

The analyst, who also asked customers about their iPod purchase habits and Mac buying intentions, said less than half have upgraded to an Intel-based Mac. "Of the 50 European Apple customers we spoke with, only 44 percent have upgraded to an Intel Mac," he wrote. "Of the 56 percent that have not made the transition, half expect to upgrade in the next 6 months."

Munster said several Apple customers are waiting for Adobe's fully optimized Creative Suite before they will upgrade to the new Intel systems. "We had expected that a higher percentage of these loyal customers would have already made the move to an Intel Mac and we see this as a sign that Apple has so far just scraped the surface of the Mac transition opportunity," he said.

On average, Munster also found that Apple's most loyal european customers owned an average of 1.6 iPods over the last five years, and that most purchased their first iPod 2.5 years ago.

"Given Apple's most loyal customers in Europe, on average, bought their first iPod within the last 2.5 years, the average European Apple customer likely bought their first iPod within the last 1-2 years," he wrote. "In other words, we believe iPod/iTunes is still in early growth stage in Europe, similar to the U.S. iPod market 4-6 quarters ago."

Munster maintains an "Outperform" rating on Apple shares with a price target of $99.