A new survey reveals what many suspected in gaming circles: Apple's iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch have surpassed Sony PSP as a gaming platform in the United States and have almost caught up with Nintendo's DS.

According to a survey from the International Gamers Survey 2010 from market research and consulting firm Newzoo, 77 million Americans play games on mobile phones and portable devices. Of those, 40.1 million use the iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. The platform of choice for 41.0 million ages 10 and up is the Nintendo DS and DSi. Eighteen million Americans play using Sony's PSP. The survey also reveals that two-thirds of PSP and iPad users play games at least three days a week, compared to 50 percent on the DS, DSi, iPhone and iPod Touch. Players willing to spend money on games is highest on Nintendo devices (67 percent) and PSP (66 percent) compared to iPod Touch / iPhone (45 percent) and iPad (32 percent).

A majority of the 160 million Americans playing computer games also play on other platforms, according to the data. Almost 14 million of Nintendo DS/DSi users (34 percent) also play games on an iPod Touch. The data also shows that nearly 90 percent of people gaming on the iPad also use an iPhone or iPod touch.

Apple iPad

Even though most games for Apple platforms tend to be cheaper, DS and PSP gamers tend to spend more money buying games. Approximately 53 percent of DS/DSi and 59 of PSP owners spend more than $10 a month on games, compared to 38 percent for the iPhone and iPod Touch. The iPad has the highest number at 72 percent.

Nintendo's position in Europe is much stronger. The chasm between Nintendo and Apple gamers is larger in key European markets, compared to the U.S., according to the survey data :

* UK: 8 million Apple platform gamers, 13 million DS/DSi gamers, 4.5 million PSP gamers.

* Germany: 7 million Apple platform gamers, 10 million DS/DSi gamers, 2.5 million PSP gamers

* France: 5.5 million Apple platform gamers, 12.5 million DS/DSi gamers, 4 million PSP gamers

* Netherlands: 0.8 million Apple platform gamers, 2.8 million DS/DSi gamers, 0.6 million PSP gamers

* Belgium: 0.6 million Apple platform gamers, 1.5 million DS/DSi gamers, 0.5 million PSP gamers

Newzoo claims that the share of paying players is comparable to U.S. numbers, but gamers are spending less on average per month. Details on spending in Europe not disclosed at the time of this writing.