Analyst: One in three high schoolers owns an iPhone

by Phil Hornshaw

Smartphones are exploding among the United States population, with nearly 50 percent of everyone in the country now owning one. And there are rising trends even among teenagers.

According to analyst Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, a survey of 5,600 U.S. teens found that about 34 percent of them had iPhones. What’s more, Munster reported that another 60 percent of those interviewed said they intend to grab an iPhone in the near future, according to a story from Macrumors.

Of course, surveys like this are far from exact. Telling a survey taker your “intentions” isn’t always accurate, because there are a lot of factors to making a purchasing decision, including price, location and other such inconveniences. Still, it suggests the iPhone remains extremely popular among young people, and that should be very good news for Apple and its marketing teams that are apparently aiming at a younger, lower-spending end of the spectrum.

In fact, in Piper Jaffray’s estimation, it’s those lower-cost devices Apple has been adding to its repertoire that have more young people grabbing iPhones instead of their Google-based counterparts. Apple let the iPhone 3GS drop down to just $49 last year, then made it free with a carrier contract on AT&T with the release of the iPhone 4S. Those units, which cost high school students a significantly smaller portion of their already low incomes, make it easier to buy and enjoy an iPhone.

Piper Jaffray finds the boost to students adopting iOS devices has been growing since this time last year. In the spring of 2011, only 17 percent of high school students went for the iPhone. By Fall 2011, it had jumped to 23; today that number is 34 percent. And according to the firm, interest in purchasing an iPhone over the next six months increased to 40 percent from 38 percent over last year.

Similar numbers exist with the iPad, Piper Jaffray noted. Here’s a quote from the Macrumors story:

“In our Spring 2012 survey, 34 percent of students owned a tablet computer (same percentage as iPhones), up from 29 percent in Fall 2011 and 22 percent last Spring. Of those tablet owners, 70 percent owned iPads, 19 percent owned tablets, and 11 percent owned Kindle Fires. Fifty-three percent of iPad owners also owned an iPhone, demonstrating the halo effect of entry devices like the iPhone.”

And as Piper Jaffray notes, it seems even more students will be drawn to Apple’s highly popular tablet, thanks to a new, lower price. The iPad 2 is now available for just $399, which is not a ton cheaper than the current iPad, but if the iPhone is any precedent, the price drop for the iPad 2 could be just enough to put it in quite a few more young people’s hands.