An overwhelming 95% of people around the world now own cell phones, according to a new nine-country study by SSI. And smartphones are heading toward market domination, which is nothing but good news for Apple and the iPhone.

Hong Kong (99%), China (98%) and Sweden (98%) have the highest cell phone ownership rates, while the US (89%) has the lowest. Findings show that, among cell phone owners, 42% currently have smartphones — and 58% are planning to make their next cell phone a smartphone. ¬†

The highest rates of smartphone ownership are in China (68%) and Hong Kong (57%), while Japan (16%) and Sweden (33%) fall at the opposite end of the spectrum. Those countries that are lagging are likely to catch up soon, however, with almost half of respondents in Japan and Sweden intending to make their next cell phone a smartphone.

Of those planning to buy smartphones, iPhones are the preferred brand. If money were no object, almost a third of respondents globally say they would prefer an Apple iPhone.  Samsung (12%), Nokia (10%), Sony Ericsson (8%) and BlackBerry (7%) round out the top five preferred brands.

SSI’s findings are based on a study of 4500+ adults on its online panels. Countries covered include the US, UK, Germany, France, Japan, Australia, China, Hong Kong and Sweden. For details go to http://www.surveysampling.com .