updated 02:15 pm EDT, Thu April 19, 2007
Harris iPhone Survey
A surprisingly large percentage of the American public wants the iPhone, Harris Interactive found in a survey published today. Of a sample the polling agency said represented a proportionate slice of all online users, nearly half (47 percent) of respondents said they were already aware of the iPhone while an additional 17 percent were already interested in buying it -- both figures Harris said were very unusual for a handset that would only be launched in June.
"[This] makes for a pretty loud buzz from consumers for a product that isn't yet available," the surveyor said.
Of those that were interested in buying, however, only a relatively small proportion of customers were likely to buy the device immediately. Nine percent were willing to buy the phone on launch; a further eight percent were willling to cut contracts short with other carriers beyond AT&T to get the iPhone earlier.
Most, however, were waiting on other factors that could delay the purchase for months or years, according to the survey. A large 40 percent of those interested would only buy the phone once the cost was reduced from $499, while another 17 percent were waiting on existing provider contracts to expire. A quarter of all answerers said they would wait until the iPhone was available through their service provider -- all but ruling them out of the imminent version due to Apple's multi-year exclusivity deal with AT&T for the handset.
Also contrary to some expectations was the reason chosen by respondents for their interest in the phone. The largest single feature cited as an incentive to get the iPhone was storage, Harris said: 37 percent referred to the 4GB or greater capacity as the primary motivator, prompting questions by the analysis firm as to whether or not people would buy the phone for any of its more phone-related features.
This is "begging the question," Harris wrote. "Is this a better phone or a better iPod?
Falling just short of the was the phone's quad-band GSM network support, which 36 percent said was important for its roaming across Europe and similarly-equipped regions. The centerpiece touchscreen interface was third at 31 percent.
The figures led Harris to conclude that AT&T could expect a "pop" of sales in June triggered solely by the iPhone and that the arrival could create a ripple effect ss the subscriber turnover rate at rival carriers was likely to increase. Longer-term sales could be even greater when prices drop, when a less expensive "iPhone nano" is released, or when the exclusivity clause expires, opening the possibility of CDMA network versions of the iPhone that would work for Sprint or Verizon.