Apple may grab as much as 6 per cent of the US mobile phone market in the next year – giving it a slightly stronger footprint in the market than rival Microsoft, a report claims.

Researchers at Markitecture surveyed 1,300 mobile phone users across the US to reach its projected figures. It found that 77 per cent of those spoken with to be at least "slightly familiar" with the iPhone.

It also noted that Apple has achieved positive first impressions of the product, finding that the more a consumer knew about the device, the more favourable their impression of the iPhone actually was.

In fact, 83 per cent of those very familiar with the device had "an excellent or very good impression of the product".

These positive reactions translate into strong sales: 6 per cent of those surveyed described themselves as likely to buy an iPhone in the next year.

Cost and users being on a different network than Apple's chosen partner in the US, AT&T, were cited as hurdles to buying an iPhone.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer recently attempted to create his own 'reality distortion field' when he slammed the iPhone last week.

"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share," Ballmer said. "No chance. It's a $500 subsidized item. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I'd prefer to have our software in 60 per cent or 70 per cent or 80 per cent of them, than I would to have 2 per cent or 3 per cent, which is what Apple might get."

Microsoft holds just 5.6 per cent of the mobile phone market with its Windows Mobile software – but the Markitecture survey shows Apple could exceed that share within a year of the release of the iPhone.