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iPhone basking in wow factor

Despite the fact that the device is not available until next month, an overwhelming number of US consumers already rate the Apple iPhone as better than their existing handset.

According to a study, which was carried out by research house Strategy Analytics, the iPhone is already basking in the glow of the “wow factor”, presumably created by the Steve Jobs reality distortion field.

“An overwhelming 90 per cent of respondents gave the iPhone higher marks than their own handset and over 40 per cent of respondents rated the iPhone much better across key functional categories – including music player, web browsing, voice mail, and phone call management – indicating real innovation in designing a user experience,” said Harvey Cohen, president of Strategy Analytics.

The results are hardly surprising though, given the feature set of the iPhone and the high end market it is targeted at. The vast majority of consumers will not be able to get their hands on the gadget for a very long time.

Indeed, Kevin Nolan, director of user experience research at Strategy Analytics said: “While the iPhone “Wow” factor is impressive, our user panel indicated that challenges in pricing and positioning may act as a barrier to mass-market success.

Exclusive iPhone carrier partner AT&T has already said that with a two year subscription, a 4GB model will be priced at $499 and an 8GB model will sell for $599. It emerged this week that a prepay version of the device could be on the cards but this would potentially add hundreds of dollars to the price, pushing it even further into the realms of luxury.

“Nonetheless, the iPhone clearly represents a breakthrough in terms of user experience,” Nolan said.

In a joint research effort between its Wireless Device Lab and Intelligent System Strategies program, Strategy Analytics explored the appeal of iPhone features, developed comparisons with current products, investigated the nature of the iPhone experience, and gained insights on design criteria for future devices.

The device beat the respondent’s own phone hands down on all comparisons – photos, web browsing, music and even voice mail and phone calls – with the one exception of texting.

It seems the virtual keyboard is a little off putting as respondents to the study rated their existing phone slightly higher.

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