Generation Spoiled? 40 Percent of Teens Have iPhones

Number of iPhone-toting teens doubles in one year

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Growing up, did you have a fancy phone that doubled as an mp3 player and handheld game system?

Apparently kids these days do.

Forty percent of teenagers in the United States tote around an iPhone according to a new survey, a figure that has surged over the past year.

According to a survey by Piper Jaffray & Co. cited by the Los Angeles Times, in the spring of 2011 only 17 percent of teens reported owning an Apple iPhone. Just months later, that proportion shot up to 23 percent and just six months ago the figure was at 34 percent.

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"We are reaffirmed that Apple remains the preeminent technology brand for teens," Gene Munster, a senior research analyst at Piper Jaffray, wrote in the report.

The number of teens itching to get their hands on an iPhone is only likely to increase, the report found: 62 percent of teens surveyed said the Apple product would be their next phone. Android phones were the next-most popular choice, with 22 percent of teens saying their next cell phone would be an Android.

But even with the iPhone seemingly poised for growth among the teenage set, not to mention among adults hungry for the latest in sleek Apple gadgetry, some have questioned whether the company has peaked and whether it can survive without Steve Jobs at the creative helm.

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"Fifteen years later, Apple has a hugely profitable business model to defend—and a lot to lose. Companies change when that happens," Joe Nocera wrote in a recent New York Times op-ed. "It happens in every industry, but it is especially easy to see in technology because things move so quickly."

"Though Apple will remain a highly profitable company for years to come, I would be surprised if it ever gives us another product as transformative as the iPhone or the iPad," Nocera added.

But as the Los Angeles Times article points out, it might not be just the latest and greatest gadgets that will define the tech giant. Now that iPhones have been around awhile, there are several generations of them in circulation and it's not likely the vast majority of 15-year-olds are shoving pristine iPhone 5's into their backpacks.

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With the release of the new iPhone, out-of-pocket expenses for previous models have come down quite a bit. Some carriers are offering an iPhone 4S for about $100 and an iPhone 4 for free — making it, theoretically at least, easier for parents to justify giving their kids an iPhone.

A good chunk of teens who report owning an iPhone might also be toting around Mom or Dad's usable but older model.. But hand-me-down or not, analysts only expect the younger generation's fixation with cool Apple gadgets to grow, especially with news Friday that the company will unveil its latest device — the mini iPad — October 23.

"Overall, we expect Apple devices to continue to expand in teen ownership, and we believe the company is set up well to benefit from loyalty among its younger user base," the report noted.

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Meg Handley is a reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can reach her at mhandley@usnews.com and follow her on Twitter at @mmhandley.