Recent online reports that Apple's 'Switch' campaign has not been a success may have been a triumph of short-term reporting, according to recent youth lifestyle surveys.

Apple has achieved major market mindshare among America's digitized youth, who are ready to "think different"; and Apple's sales may soon reflect teenage enthusiasm.

Technology a 'must-have' An iPod and Apple notebook are two of the five 'must-have' products among this year's crop of US returning school kids, reports youth attitude analyst Look-Look.

In a recent Youth Culture Update from the company, Look-Look managing editor Michelle Madden wrote: "Tech goods compete with fashion basics in the ranking of respondents' back-to-school must-have items this year."

Look-Look spoke with 500 US teenagers, asking them what their must-have items for going back to school were. Look-Look also ran another survey asking American youth to name the five companies they would endorse if they were famous.

Apple is the top company America's youth would like to endorse, Look-Look said.

One respondent would be happy to represent the company: "I'd endorse Apple. I'm a diehard Mac user with a deep personal appreciation for the company's philosophies on industrial product design and user interfaces. People who know me know about my love for the Mac."

iPod an essential In an earlier survey conducted February 2003, Look-Look asked 500 respondents what cool new gadget they had recently heard of. The top three items were picture-taking mobile phones, followed by iPods and Palms. MP3 players were number six in the list, leading the firm to remark: "It is interesting to note that they call out iPod by brand name as number two, while MP3 player comes in sixth."

Look-Look president DeeDee Gordon said: "iPods fall under the macrotrend we call 'mobile lifestyle' – this has been happening for the past 5 years. Other "hot" things with consumers at the moment are collectible/limited edition trainers designed by artists, car accessories, Target, and the new Power Mac G5."

Apple's iPod is emerging as a cultural phenomenon, said Look-Look. The product is emerging in myriad situations. One respondent said: "The few people I know who have iPods are obsessed by it. For them it has crossed over from being a way to listen to music to becoming a critical accessory, like a mobile phone. A few of my designer friends use iPods, but part of the reason is that they are hardcore brand loyal to Mac."

Another respondent quipped: "I don't know many people obsessed with their iPod – but I do know plenty of people obsessed with getting an iPod."

Apple moving beyond its box Look-Look's research suggests the iPod – and Apple's – market appeal is about to move beyond Apple's traditional constituencies among professionals and the middle class.

"The iPod is beginning to hit the urban areas hard. It appears in videos like 50 cent's PIMP and Mary J Blige's new comeback song. Everyone I know wants one," 26-year old "T.J." told Look-Look.

Apple threatens to achieve critical mass among American youth, with another lifestyle analyst, Lambesis Research Group, reporting the iPod as the number one technology style brand.

"This gadget defines a new and different lifestyle for trend-setters who are on-the-go and unwilling to part with their favourite tunes," Lambesis Research said.

Minds first, market follows Apple sold 304,000 iPods in its June quarter, and will introduce an iTunes music store for Windows before the end of the year. The company has stylish retail outlets situated in the trendiest shopping areas across the US, so is well-equipped to benefit from any cultural shift toward the company.

Speaking Wednesday, Apple chief financial officer Fred Anderson told analysts: "We believe the Music Store for Windows will lead to more iPod sales and generate more Mac sales in future."

"We are focused on driving top line growth through market share gains," he said.