iPod #1 with American Teens, Survey Shows

The Apple iPod remains the number one digital media device among American teenagers by a significant margin, a new survey of 11 U.S. high schools conducted by analysts at the investment firm Piper Jaffray & Co. reported Wednesday.

In its bi-annual iTaking Stock With Teensi survey obtained by The Mac Observer, research analysts Michael Olson and Gene Munster found that of 518 students, the number of kids owning an iPod had risen dramatically. 56% said they owned an iPod, compared to 40% as reported in the companyis Fall survey. The next closest competitor in the current survey was Sony, which was chosen by 14% of device owners, followed by iRiver at 7% and Rio at 5%. 17% of respondents said they owned others brands, including Dell and Creative.

41% of students indicated they own some sort of portable digital audio player versus 59% who said they did not own such a device.

But it was numbers of those planning to buy in the near future that were just as interesting: Of the 59% of students expecting to purchase a device within the next year, 70% expect to buy an iPod. While that number was the same in the Fall survey, only 46% of students were looking to buy a device at that time.

15% of students that expect to buy a device indicating that it will be a Sony, followed by other miscellaneous brands at 4%, Dell and Rio at 3% each and Creative together with iRiver at 1% each.

"Despite a material increase in market penetration over the last two to three quarters, a significantly higher portion of teens expect to buy a device over the next year versus those who said last Fall that they expected to make a similar purchase within the next 12 months," the analysts concluded.

For teens, the pricing isweet spoti for digital audio players remains between US$100 and $199, with the survey indicating 39% of teens would spend in that range. For Apple, that could be good news as it presently sells three models within that price range.

28% of teens said they would pay less than $100, 27% would pay $200 to $300, and 6% said they would pay $300 or more.

Interestingly, the teens indicated they are willing to pay for capacity. Specifically, 65% indicated that they would rather pay $250 for a device that holds 1,000 songs versus 35% who said they would rather pay $150 for a device with a 250-song capacity.

"In our view, the key takeaways from this survey are the digital audio market is gaining more steam among this 14 to 18 year old demographic, and (the) iPod remains significantly ahead of competition in both marketshare and mindshare," the analysts concluded.

The average age of the students in the survey was 16.8 years old, with an average household income of $72,000. The gender breakdown was 38% male and 62% female.