What’s not to like? Every year Apple’s newest version of iOS makes older iPhones and iPads work better than when they were new. Hundreds of millions of devices get upgraded every year. Apple says nearly 90-percent upgraded to iOS 11 before iOS 12 was released. So, what’s the problem?
Old Is New
The way I see it, the fact that Apple manages to sell more new iPhones and iPads each year is a challenge because so many devices– from iPhone 5s to iPad mini– get upgrades to the new iOS and that has to have a negative impact on customers buying new products.
Yes, every year we read about how owners of last year’s iPhone do not need to upgrade to the incrementally improved new iPhones. Guess what? They don’t. Apple’s installed iPhone customer base pushes just south of 1-billion, and Apple sells less than 250-million new iPhones a year, so the average user keeps an iPhone longer than ever.
A few years ago, those who guesstimate such things and do research to back up the premise found that smartphone owners keep their devices for more than two years and the amount of time has been increasing. iPhone lifespan— that time period where the original owner keeps the device– is more than 2.5-years.
That sounds about right.
So, the question is, ‘Why would Apple make new iOS updates available to so many different old devices?‘ Would that not dampen sales of new devices?
Does it? Yes. But nobody knows exactly how much and since Apple continues to sell more iPhones every year does it really matter? If iOS and macOS work on older machines, thereby inhibiting their owners from updating to new machines more frequently, how does that hurt the customer?
It. Does. Not.
How does Apple benefit?
Good question, but such attention to owners of older devices certainly works to improve customer loyalty over competitors like Samsung and the two or three million Google Pixel owners (yes; burn!).
Providing an iOS or macOS update that works on so many older Apple devices probably dampens sales of new devices but it isn’t something that has a numerical reference. iPhone accounts for nearly 50-percent of revenue for all smartphones, and about 85-percent of the entire industry’s profits. Likewise, the Mac, despite barely a double-digit marketshare, basks in much of the PC industry’s profits.
Apple’s hardware tends to have lower total cost of ownership and higher resale value, so it’s obvious that this strategy to keep customers happy with frequent OS updates is not a real problem.