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iPhone boosting interest in Cingular/AT&T

The latest market study aimed at quantifying demand for Apple's upcoming iPhone handset has found that nearly one-in-ten respondents hold a high interest in purchasing the device upon availability. But it also shows that the Apple device is boosting the appeal of Cingular/AT&T's wireless network.

Conducted by ChangeWave, a firm which polls a network of business executives and professionals working in more than 20 industries, the April 2007 study found that 9 percent of participants are likely to buy an iPhone once it becomes available —including 6 percent that said they are "somewhat likely" to buy and 3 percent who characterized their intent as "highly likely." Another 7 percent said they would purchase the Apple gadget as a gift for someone else.

"The excitement surrounding the mid-June release of the Apple iPhone is just as strong among consumers as it was three months ago," analysts for the firm wrote in a summary of the study's findings. "The current survey provides strong evidence that Apple should exceed its iPhone sales goals for 2008 – if its overall performance lives up to consumer expectations."

ChangeWave's study of 3,489 participants also confirms the consensus that demand for mutli-function handset will surge should Apple reduce entry-level pricing below $499. For example, a combined 10 percent said they’d consider buying a 4GB model if the price fell to the $200-$299 range, while 20 percent would be interested in an 8GB model within that range.

ChangWave Graph

Perhaps the most compelling aspect of the study is the impact of the iPhone on longer term handset and provider buying intentions amongst the particpants. For the second ChangeWave survey in a row, Motorola’s future share among consumers registered a dramatic decline —falling from 33 percent in October 2006 to just 17 percent currently.

In regards to cell phone providers, Verizon continued to hold its 30 percent market share lead among respondents, but Cingular/ATT —iPhone's exclusive service provider in the U.S. —gained 1-point on Verizon since January, bringing its share up to 27 percent.

ChangWave Graph

What's more, Cingular has reportedly surged ahead of Verizon in terms of future buying intentions, gaining 6 percentage points to become the top wireless provider of choice among those respondents likely to switch service providers.

"Verizon (22%; down 3-pts) has continued to trend down among this critically important group —falling to second place for the first time since we began asking this question in a ChangeWave survey," analysts for the firm wrote.