What’s the best Mac? If the Consumer Reports rule is followed, some Mac owners would never upgrade to a new Mac. iPad sales have dropped the past few years because the average lifecycle age– the time when an average iPad owner upgrades to a new device– hasn’t been reached. How long should you own your Apple product before you upgrade? Let Apple tell you.
Lifetime vs. First Owner
There’s a distinction to be made between a product’s lifecycle— and we’re talking Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Watch here; basically, how long they will last before they stop working– and how long the first owner holds onto the device before upgrading to a new one (and, either selling the older model, or handing it down to the less privileged).
I’m more of a, 1) first owner, and, 2) early adopter kind of gal, so I’m not likely to follow Apple’s recommendation-cum-expectation for how long the company expects a first owner to own their products. Kinda sorta buried in Apple’s recent Environment Report is this little tidbit.
Years of use, which are based on first owners, are assumed to be four years for OS X and tvOS devices and three years for iOS and watchOS devices.
That means a Mac and Apple TV would be owned– by a first owner– for four years before an upgrade to a newer device, while iPhone and iPad and Watch would be owned for three years– by a first owner– before a similar upgrade to a new model.
On average, that sounds about right as based upon my highly scientific survey of family and friends and co-workers. For Mac users, the average seems to be about four years, while iPhone users seems to be closer to two or three years. I’m not sure about Apple TV or Watch users, though. The Watch has only been on the market a year, but if Apple continues the tick tock model upgrade method, three years sounds about right, too.
In other words, for as many Apple customers who are like me and upgrade more quickly than average, there are other Apple customers who hold on to their devices a year or two or three longer than average.
Let me use product lifetime and lifecycle as mostly synonymous in this case. I have a co-worker who manages to get a new Mac notebook every six to seven years. Her iPhone, though, gets upgraded every two years. Her iPad Air would seem to be somewhere between the two. And, she doesn’t bother to resell her older devices, but cleans them up and gives them away to someone in need, sans customer support (much the same as my method, though I upgrade more frequently; the ‘no-customer-support’ issue was learned the hard way).
So, the questions I have for you are these.
- How long do you own your Mac before upgrading?
- How long do you own an iPhone before upgrading?
- How long do you own an iPad before upgrading?
- Are you a ‘First Owner’ or a ‘Lifecycle Owner?’
- After upgrading, what happens to the older device?
Finally, some additional food for thought. Apple has an iPhone Upgrade Program which, for a monthly price, gets you a new iPhone every year. Think of it as a lease or rental program; you pay by the month the have the latest and greatest. Would you consider the same kind of Upgrade Program for Watch, iPad, and Mac?