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  • About the Installed Base

    February 23rd, 2017

    Typical of Apple’s iOS releases, users of iPhones and iPads upgrade in droves, with hundreds of millions running the upgrade within just a few months. So according to data from the App Store that’s available to developers, as of February 20, Apple reports that 79% of these devices have been upgraded to iOS 10 so far.

    In contrast, the iOS 9 adoption rate hit 77% over roughly the same period. But what’s most important about its successor is that tens of millions of devices aren’t supported. There will always be a residue of gear that cannot upgrade, which makes the numbers even more impressive.

    So iOS 10 requires an iPhone 5 or later, an iPad mini 2 or later, and an iPad 4th generation or later. Obviously all iPad Airs and Pros, more recent products, are eligible for the update.

    A third-party web tracking company, Mixpanel Trends, lists the adoption rate at 88%, but that might be pushing it.

    Now as iOS updates go, I haven’t read as many complaints about this release, although there have been regular maintenance updates to fix this, that and the other thing. There were positive changes to Maps, Messages and Siri, and other enhancements that made it a more useful upgrade for many.

    What this does, year after year, is demonstrate the value of Apple’s control of its own platform. It means that wireless carriers cannot intercept or delay the update process. They cannot stuff your iPhone with junkware. It’s the sort of control Apple insisted on from the very first day the iPhone went on sale, and it took awhile, and unexpected success, for the carriers to get the message and agree to a no-touch policy with these smartphones.

    In contrast, all those smartphones from Samsung and other manufacturers can be customized — or messed up — by both handset makers and carriers. You cannot even be assured of getting the latest and greatest version of Android, and I won’t mention any other mobile OS since they have been reduced to insignificance.

    So in contrast, the most popular Android OS right now is Android 5 Lollipop, released in the fall of 2015, which has an estimated adoption rate of 29.93%, according to Mixpanel Trends. The second most popular is Android 4.4 KitKat, released in 2014, with a market share of 14.99%. Most OS versions are consigned to the “Other” category, with Android Nougat installed on a mere 1.2% of active Android gear, according to other web metrics. That is absolutely pathetic.

    Supposedly, security updates can be sent separately along with Google Play store releases, which is meant to lessen the problems resulting from running older operating systems. Imagine that you can buy a brand new Android smartphone, the latest and greatest, and have no assurance it runs the latest Android OS, or that you will ever be able to upgrade during its entire lifetime. Or if you are, you must wait for manufacturers to first test it with their own bloatware, and send it on to the carrier who does the same. If and when both occur, you may be lucky to receive your update.

    Getting macOS Sierra’s adoption rate is not quite as easy. They are usually compared to the entire PC market, rather than Macs in general, but I’ll go with that.

    So according to web metrics for January from Net Applications, Sierra had a 2.75% share of the global PC market. It’s predecessor, El Capitan had a 1.73% share of the market.

    The more interesting statistic is Windows adoption. So Windows 10, released in July of 2015, has a 25.3% share. That means that most PCs are using older operating systems. So Windows 7, released in the summer of 2009, is still on 47.25% of the PCs currently in use. Windows 8.1 has 6.9%. Windows XP, released in 2001, not long after the very first release version of OS X appeared, is installed on 9.17% of the PCs still being used.

    That is troublesome, since it presents all sorts of security issues that makes these computers absolutely dangerous to run, unless they are kept in a very restricted environment. But you’ll still find them at business offices, believe it or not, despite the fact that Microsoft stopped supporting XP years ago.

    Worse, when you total those numbers, it means more computers are running XP than all Macs currently in use. That is troubling!

    In any case, Apple clearly has found the way to encourage its users to upgrade their operating systems within months of release. By the time iOS 11 and Sierra’s successors are out, very few eligible devices will not be using these operating systems. Over that time, Apple will have released a number of updates to make iOS 10 and macOS Sierra more reliable, with a selection of fascinating new features.

    By far the most interesting one, by the way, is the switch to the new Apple File System (APFS), which is currently included with iOS 10.3 betas. It is faster, more secure, with features that are expected to provide the base for Apple to begin its next phase of OS innovation. macOS Sierra includes a beta version of APFS, which, for various reasons, is really only for developers and not yet meant for general use, so it’s not installed. I expect it will go into general release with Sierra’s successor.



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