Apple exerts major influence on global research and development, and is already working on a second model iPhone, a report claims.

The huge success of the iPod and iPhone lines have made Apple one of the most influential companies in the high- tech world today, a report by iSuppli notes.

The report observes that Apple's product design activities exert major influence on the global electronics supply chain.

In the first part of 2007, Apple ranked in fourth place in terms of design influence on semiconductor spending in the US, trailing HP, Dell and Motorola.

Apple achieved the fastest growth of design influence of any company in the nation.

Apple's design activity in the United States spurred $3.8 billion worth of global semiconductor purchases in the first half of 2007, up 27 per cent from $3 billion in 2006.

The surge in influence was mostly due to the release of its iPhone mobile handset. iSuppli forecasts Apple will ship more than 4.5 million iPhones globally in 2007, 13.5 million units in 2008 and 21.1 million units in 2009.

iSuppli also believes a second version of the iPhone will be released in the next 12 to 18 months.

Apple’s product design activity in the first half of 2007 drove the largest increase in semiconductor spending among the top ten electronics OEMs in the United States, according to new data from iSuppli’s Regional Design Influence Tool (RDIT).

That tool examines semiconductor spending attributable to electronic-equipment design activity in various countries worldwide.

“The design of electronic goods leads directly to equipment production, which in turn drives semiconductor purchasing,” said Min-Sun Moon, analyst, OEM semiconductor spending and design influence for iSuppli.

“Companies that engage in design of electronic equipment, such as PCs, mobile phones and televisions, also are responsible for specifying the use of particular chips in the products being developed. These companies have a major influence on global semiconductor spending patterns.”