iPhone buyers have no regrets

By Edward
C. Baig,

USA
TODAY

Early
iPhone owners are overwhelmingly happy with their devices, a survey out Friday
says, and Apple (AAPL) and AT&T (T) are luring customers from rivals as a
result.

In one of
the first such studies, 90% of 200 owners said they were “extremely”
or “very” satisfied with their phone. And 85% said they are
“extremely” or “very” likely to recommend the device to
others, says the online survey conducted and paid for by market researcher
Interpret of
Santa Monica,

Calif. The firm surveyed 1,000 cellphone
users July 6-10.

The
findings are “pretty much off the charts,” says Jason Kramer,
Interpret’s chief strategy officer.

The firm’s
clients are in the entertainment and mobile industries.

Kelly Croy,
a seventh-grade teacher in

Oak Harbor,

Ohio, is a happy buyer.
“Overall, the coolest device I’ve ever owned,” he says.

Apple
launched the combination cellphone, iPod music player and Internet gadget with
much fanfare on June 29. AT&T is the exclusive service provider.

Greg
Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of worldwide marketing for the iPod and iPhone,
said positive word-of-mouth reaction is “critically important” to any
product, as it was with the iPod. “We’re getting even greater reaction to
the iPhone,” he says.

Apple
still faces challenges. The high cost of the two iPhone models – $499 and $599
– ranks as the No. 1 reason consumers interested in the device did not buy one,
the survey says. Those consumers said they would pay an average of, at most,
$180.

Owners
said there’s room for improvement. At the top of their wish list: longer
battery life, faster Internet speed and more internal memory. Other factors,
including the lack of a physical keyboard, were well down on their lists.

The iPhone
is extending Apple’s reach, the survey says. Three of 10 buyers were first-time
Apple customers. For 40%, iPhone is their first iPod.

Apple
could “change the physics in the phone market,” if it is as
successful building loyalty to the iPhone as it has been in the music and
computer markets, says Gene Munster, senior research analyst at Piper Jaffray.

Interpret’s
survey also bodes well for AT&T. Half the buyers switched from another
carrier. Of those, 35% paid an average $167 to break a contract. “We
thought AT&T would be more of a barrier to entry,” says

Munster.

Another
boon for AT&T: IPhone owners surveyed expect to pay about $35 more in
monthly service fees compared with their previous cellphones.

Contributing:
Jefferson Graham