"iPhone Effect" boosting opinions, sales of Apple and AT&T

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Apple's first cellphone has contributed to a steadily mounting enthusiasm for Apple and its wireless partner AT&T that is leading to more Apple product owners overall, says a new study by Solutions Research Group.

Between October 2006 and November 2007, the number of respondents who have a "very positive" view of Apple has shot from 21 to 32 percent, the group says, while the overall number of positive opinions has climbed slightly from 71 to 74 percent.

While the view may be connected to non-iPhone products as well, the research also notes that the number of people expressing the same opinion of AT&T has also increased from 17 to 21 percent over the same period.

This shows clear signs of an "iPhone Effect" on either company, the analysts say.

Such a halo is also said to be translating into real-world results. Solutions Research estimates that about 31 percent of all study subjects over 12 years old own at least one Apple device, easily besting the 20 percent from October of 2006. Ownership is not broken down into iPhone, iPod, or Mac categories, however.

Nonetheless, the study authors contend that Apple's current public opinion is only set to improve in the near future. At 49 percent, nearly half of all respondents say that Apple is "getting better" while 36 percent believe the company unchanged. Only 4 percent believe Apple is getting worse, the study says.

Previous observations by analysts have mirrored the Solutions Research Group study and argue that Apple is creating an iPhone halo which translates to a warm reception of other Apple products.

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