Apple 2.0

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Survey: 22% of U.S. teens want an iPhone; 15% already own one

October 6, 2009: 5:18 PM ET
Photo: Apple Inc.

Photo: Apple Inc.

Apple (AAPL) tends to score well in Piper Jaffray's "Taking Stock With Teens" reports, but the results of PFC's 18th semi-annual survey, released Tuesday, suggest that American teenagers are growing even more loyal to the Apple brand.

iPhones, iPods and iTunes emerged as clear winners in the Minneapolis-based brokerage house's study of the music and cellphone buying preferences of some 600 middle-class and upper middle-class teens.

"It's really a story about Apple," said Andrew Murphy, representing Piper Jaffray's technology team. "Apple continues to dominate."

Among the findings:

  • 15% of the teens surveyed own an iPhone, up from 8% six months ago
  • 22% planned to buy an iPhone in the next six months, up from 16% in April
  • 87% own an iPod, up slightly from last year
  • Of the 40% of teens who plan to buy an MP3 player in the next 12 months, 74% intend to buy an iPod and 13% a Microsoft (MSFT) Zune
  • Most teenagers (57%) still download their music over peer-to-peer networks, but of those who buy their digital music legally, 93% use iTunes

If there was a weak spot in the survey for Apple, it was in the video games report. Despite Cupertino's concerted effort to market the iPod touch as a game machine, the console is still king among American teenagers. Fully 65% of those surveyed said they were unwilling to buy cellphone games, just slightly less than the 69% who said they had no interest in PC games.

The 600 high school students questioned about iPhones, MP3 players and online music were part of a larger survey of 11,200 teenagers interviewed online and in school. The 1,200 teens in the school survey came from households with an average income of $74,000 a year, representing the top 30% of U.S. households.

The 10,000 teens in the online survey -- Piper Jaffray's largest to date -- came from households with an average income of $52,000, which is closer to the U.S. median ($42,000).

"We believe that the teen demographic is a critical component of long-term growth in the digital music and mobile markets," wrote Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster in a report to clients issued Tuesday afternoon, "and Apple is taking its leading position in music and mobile markets."

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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