Market research firm SurveyU claims that Apple's decision to drop the price of its 8GB iPhone from US$599 to $399 has dramatically increased demand for the device from college students in the US.

The company has been tracking students' feelings about the iPhone since May. SurveyU conducted a "flash poll" of 1,000 students on the evening of 5 September, hours after Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced that the 8GB iPhone would drop in price by $200.

The pricing news was welcome. The importance of the price of the iPhone increased from 80 per cent in June, July and August to 90 per cent of students questioned in the flash poll.

"College students have seen how the iPhone performs and with this reduction, sales among college students will see a solid bump with an even bigger jump upon the next release," said Dan Coates, co-founder of SurveyU.

Despite the public backlash from early iPhone adopters at Apple for dropping the price – apparently widespread enough to cause Apple CEO Steve Jobs to promise them a $100 credit good for use at Apple's retail and online stores – students polled by SurveyU (before Apple's $100 credit plan was announced) by and large weren't bitter about the price drop.

"Using a five point scales wherein students indicated their agreement with two, diametrically opposed statements, non-purchasers tended slightly toward supporting Apple and their decision while purchasers tended only slightly towards reprimanding Apple for the sudden and dramatic price shift," said the company.

The most dramatic increase in student buying trends reported by SurveyU involves students who plan to purchase an iPhone when their contract expires. That increased from 4 per cent in August to 11 per cent on 5 September. The number of students polled who plan to get an iPhone "within a few months" doubled from 2 per cent to 4 per cent, and those who expressed "immediate intent" to buy the iPhone increased from 0 per cent to 0.5 per cent.