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The iPhone is helping AT&T while hurting the phone company's competition

Even though the iPhone does not launch for 11 days, the hype surrounding the latest Apple gadget continues to explode.  More than 64 percent of American users and 56 percent of British mobile phone users have at least heard of the iPhone. 

While the iPhone will be an expensive product -- priced at $499 and $599 for the 4GB and 8GB model respectively-- and users will have to sign an exclusive contract with AT&T, many consumers seem unfazed.  According to a study done by M:Metrics, almost 1 in 10 mobile phone users in the United States have "a strong interest" in purchasing an iPhone.  Of the 11,064 people polled for the study, 67 percent are subscribers of a service besides AT&T. 

Further research suggests that as many as 19 million Americans are interested in purchasing an iPhone.

"This is an early indication that AT&T's strategy to use the device to lure customers from competitors could play off," said Mark Donovan, M:Metrics senior analyst.

Analysts also expect AT&T iPhone users will spend an additional $20 per month on data service charges that average AT&T subscribers do not use.

Apple and AT&T have an exclusive agreement for at five years, meaning people wanting the iPhone will be forced to use AT&T.  Analysts expect T-Mobile and Sprint Nextel to be hurt most by the deal.

Apple plans to have up to 3 million iPhones for the scheduled launch on June 29.





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