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Ah, surveys and statistics. They are a bane and a boon to journalists, I think. You can run stories with a few numbers in the headlines, and that tends to be good for pageviews (sadly the underlying motivation for a lot of what counts as online news nowadays).

So here's a juicy stat: one-third of teens plan to buy an iPhone soon.

That's according to Piper Jaffray's latest bi-annual survey of high school students. The analyst firm asked 4500 about their interest in Apple products and found that 17% already own an iPhone and 37% plan to buy one in the next 6 months. That's an all-time high for interest, according to Piper Jaffray, which says that this interest in buying does usually translate into purchasing.

22% own a tablet (presumably an iPad) or have one in their house, and 20% plan to buy one soon.

While interest in the iPhone and iPad is on the rise, interest in mp3 players is declining. 80% of teens surveyed say they own one, down from 90% last fall. Teens say they now listen to music on their cellphone. Of mp3 player owners, 86% say they have an iPod. Microsoft's Zune is in a distance second at 3%.

65% of the students surveyed said they use file-trading sites to download music, and among legal services, iTunes has a 95% market share. The survey does suggest that teens might be interested in subscription services. 37% said they'd considering ponying up for Spotify, Rhapsody or the like.

All of this looks like great news for Apple, and that's certainly the spin that Piper Jaffray puts on the report. Apple's dominance in the mobile and online music markets is going seemingly unchecked, coupled with rising interest in the iPhone and iPad, said analyst Gene Munster.

But it's a survey about teens' interest in Apple products, and while yes, I do think folks of all ages are enamored with the Apple brand, I'm not sure it's game-set-match.

Take, for example, the results from the recent Speak Up 2010 survey (you can read my story on it at ReadWriteWeb. This survey had a much larger sample size -- 300,000 students versus 4500 -- and it asked about general tech patterns. That study found that 44% of students own a smartphone, as compared to the 17% who proclaim iPhone ownership in the Piper Jaffray report.

The SpeakUp survey doesn't address interest in buying, so we don't know if non-smart-phone owners will go Apple or Android, but I think there's a lot of reason to assume that like many prospective buyers, they're going to weigh their options. And rather than being so assured that we've got a new generation of Apple fanboys, I do wonder if we're looking at a new generation of Google and Android fans.

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Audrey Watters


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