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Study claims 'huge potential' for Apple iPod phone

If Apple Computer were to release an iPod-based cell phone device with features in line with recent rumors, it would hold the potential to increase the company's customer footprint substantially, a new study has revealed.

According to market research results released by Solutions Research Group on Tuesday, 16 percent of Americans over the age of 12 —an approximate 40 million people —responded to a survey saying they thought an iPod phone would be a "great idea" for them personally.

The study, which polled over 2,600 people between June and October 2006, also found that just over 20 percent of Americans currently own an Apple product. However, it implies that Apple's footprint could grow to over 30 percent of Americans within 18 months of an iPod phone release.

Based on the study's findings, 53 percent of likely iPhone buyers would be female and 47 percent male. The average buyer would be 35 years of age and pull an income 10 percent higher than the national average.

In a summary of the results, Solutions said the Sprint/Nextel and T-mobile customers responded most enthusiastically to the idea of an iPod phone. Meanwhile, African-Americans and Hispanics were the two ethnicities that expressed "above average interest" in the device.

"Potential buyers are above average music and movie downloaders, suggesting significant incremental revenue opportunities —for example, 29 percent of likely iPod phone buyers paid for music in the past month from a site such as iTunes or Napster compared to an average of 12 percent of the US online population," the firm said.

Solutions iPhone Research Results

iPhone Appeal Study Results | Source: Solutions Research Group.

Apple's iPod image and user experience were reportedly significant appeal drivers in the cell phone study. Overall, participants waged as their primary concern the impact on battery life entertainment capabilities would have on such a device.

"Clearly, the rumored two-battery design would go a long way in addressing this significant perceived limitation," Solutions said.

The firm noted that it funds its own syndicated research in order to maintain an unbiased perspective.