By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
April 26, 2012

FORTUNE — It used to be the iPod that got Americans started down the road to dependency. Now, according to a new NPD survey, their first Apple (AAPL) product is more likely to be an iPhone or, increasingly, an iPad.

To quote the NPD press release:

“While over 70 percent of long-standing Apple owners began their relationship with the brand by way of the iPod, this number declines to just 57 percent among those entering the Apple franchise in the past two years.  Newcomers to the brand increasingly turn to the iPhone or iPad as their first Apple device, which combined account for one-third of first-time Apple purchases since 2010.”

That makes sense. iPod sales slowed to 7.7 million units last quarter. In the same period, Apple sold 35 million iPhones and nearly 12 million iPads, up over 150% year over year.

“iPad sales are growing much faster than any other Apple product has this soon after launch,” says the NPD’s Ben Arnold. ”In fact, one-in-five Apple owner households has one— nearly equivalent to the number that own an Apple computer.”

According to NPD, 33% of U.S. homes, (37 million households) own Apple products.

You can think of the iPad as the new Apple gateway drug, although the company prefers to talk about its “halo effect.”

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