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30 percent of iPhone 3G buyers dump existing carriers

Nearly one-third of all iPhone 3G buyers have been willing to ditch their provider to go with exclusive carrier AT&T in order to get the popular smartphone.

Apple's iPhone 3G apparently created a summertime switch itch: 30 percent of all the smartphone's buyers bailed on their existing carriers in order to purchase the device, according to an NPD Group report released Monday.

AT&T has been the iPhone 3G's exclusive carrier in the U.S. since the smartphone was released in June.

According to the report, which covers June through August, 47 percent of those switching to AT&T to get the iPhone 3G came from Verizon Wireless, 24 percent from T-Mobile, and 19 percent from Sprint.

"While the original iPhone also helped win customers for AT&T, the faster network speeds of the iPhone 3G (have) proven more appealing to customers that already had access to a 3G network," Ross Rubin, NPD director of industry analysis, said in a statement.

By contrast, about 23 percent of consumers overall switched carriers from June through August.

During that same time frame, the smartphones with the highest unit sales were Apple's iPhone 3G, followed by Research In Motion's BlackBerry Curve, RIM's BlackBerry Pearl, and the Palm Centro, according to NPD.

Prior to launching its 3G version, Apple's iPhone accounted for 11 percent of the smartphone market in 2008. But since the 3G's launch, that figure has risen to 17 percent of the market since the start of the year.

"The launch of the lower-priced iPhone 3G was a boon to overall consumer smartphone sales," Rubin said.