May 2, 2007, 12:00 AM

Online shoppers slow to answer the iPhone sales call

Apple Inc. is generating consumer buzz around iPhone, but initial sales could prove sluggish because of sticker shock and connectivity concerns, according to a new study from Markitecture.

Apple Inc. is generating consumer buzz around iPhone, but initial sales could be sluggish, according to a new study from Markitecture, a Norwalk, Conn., marketing and communications firm.

Markitecture surveyed 1,300 consumers on iPhone brand recognition and purchasing intent. The survey found that 83% of people are very familiar with iPhone and had an excellent or very good impression of the product.

But price could prove to a significant sales barrier. The iPhone, revealed by Apple, No. 15 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, at MacWorld 2007 in January, unites three key technologies that could jar consumers into using their phones to go beyond downloading music and onward to shopping and conducting other transactions on the go. The handheld device unites mobile phone, large-screen iPod and Internet communications into one unit.

The iPhone is scheduled to be available in June in the U.S. and priced at $499 for the 4GB model and $599 for the 8GB model. But based on price, the Markitecture survey reveals that only 6% of consumers participating in the research expect to purchase an iPhone in the next year. “Cost was cited as the top reason, but coming in a close second are carrier issues and contracts,” the study says.

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