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Demand for smartphones (as opposed to ordinary cellphones) has never been higher and continues to accelerate, according to a report issued Thursday by RBC Capital and ChangeWave Reseach.

In a note to client, RBC’s Mike Abramsky ticks off four key findings from interviews conducted June 9-15 among 4,100 mostly high-end consumers.

  • Interest is high. 14.4% planned to buy a smartphone over the next three months, up from 11.2% in March.
  • Apple and Palm lead demand. Interest in buying Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone jumped to 44% (from 30% in March) following the introduction of the 3GS. Interest in Palm (PALM) doubled to 8% (from 4% in March and 1% last December). Interest in buying Research in Motion’s (RIMM) BlackBerry was still a “healthy” 23%, but down from 37% in March.
  • Touchscreens are hot. 43% of prospective smartphone buyers say touchscreens are “very important” to them, up from 33% in September. But users who do a lot of typing still prefer QWERTY keyboards (33%, basically unchanged).
  • Who needs TV? Asked in May what they’d be willing to part with, 1,700 respondents in a separate survey made their priorities clear. 44% would give up their TV service, 23% their home phones, 11% their DVD/movie rentals, but only 3% their cellphones.

ChangeWave surveys, according to the company’s literature, are drawn from “a group of 20,000 highly qualified business, technology, and medical professionals — as well as early adopter consumers — who work in leading companies of select industries. They are credentialed professionals who spend their everyday lives on the frontline of technological change.”

Below the fold: The RBC/ChangeWave fever chart of the horse race between Apple, RIM and Palm.