Nearly 1 in 10 cell phone users in the U.S. has "a strong interest" in buying an Apple iPhone, according to a study released Friday by M:Metrics.
Poll results show about 9 percent of the 11,064 mobile phone users surveyed were inclined to purchase the highly touted iPhone, set for release June 29. That translates to about 19 million people when projected out, based on the U.S. Census, according to M:Metrics, a research company that tracks mobile phone use.
That's "an impressive figure, when you consider that the installed base of most high-end devices rarely approaches 1 million and respondents were informed of the price point as well as of the AT&T exclusive," M:Metrics senior analyst Mark Donovan said in a statement.
The iPhone will be available in the U.S. exclusively through AT&T as part of a five-year deal with Apple, M:Metrics noted. The device is expected to sell at $499 for the 4GB model and $599 for the 8GB, with a two-year AT&T service contract.
Of those who indicated a strong interest in buying an iPhone, 67 percent were customers of carriers other than AT&T. Often it was Sprint and T-Mobile customers who indicated they were willing to switch, an M:Metrics representative said.
When compiling the survey, M:Metrics ranked participants' responses on a scale of 1 to 10, with the highest number reserved for those who "strongly agree." The research firm took the rankings from 7 to 10 as the group who had a "strong interest" in buying the iPhone, said the M:Metrics representative.
Within that group of respondents, more than 25 percent listed "strongly agree"--ranked a 10--as their interest in buying an iPhone.
The poll was conducted in April with an online survey panel of cell phone subscribers.
An M:Metrics researcher speculated that iPhone purchases may eventually affect sales of digital music players. The survey found that 64 percent of respondents who said they have a strong interest in buying the iPhone already own an MP3 player. That compares with a market average of 30 percent for owners of other music phones.
"It will be interesting to see at what rate consumers replace their digital music player with an iPhone," Paul Goode, a senior analyst with M:Metrics, said in a statement.