Pre-Apple Event: Latest Versions of iPhone, OS X, iOS Most Prominent in North America

Pre-Apple Event: Latest Versions of iPhone, OS X, iOS Most Prominent in North America

  • 8 September 2014

On September 9, 2014, Apple is expected to announce one or more new iPhone models, along with some news regarding the availability of the newest editions of iOS and OS X. Going into the event, usage-based stats show that Apple has done a noteworthy job managing its own mobile ecosystem from an adoption standpoint.

To provide a view into Apple’s current state of affairs prior to the September event, Chitika Insights examined OS X and iOS version distributions, along with how iPhone Web usage breaks down by screen size.

For the OS-focused portions of the study, Chitika Insights sampled tens of millions of U.S. and Canadian iOS- and Mac OS X-based online ad impressions running through the Chitika Ad Network. For the iPhone-focused portion of the study, Chitika Insights sampled tens of millions of U.S. and Canadian iPhone-based online ad impressions running through the Chitika Ad Network.

In both cases, the data used within the analysis were drawn from impressions catalogued between August 25 and 31, 2014.

As the most anticipated news at the event is around any new iPhone versions, we’ll place our focus there first.

As seen above, iPhone 5, 5C, and 5S users generate over 65.4% of total iPhone Web traffic in the U.S. and Canada, with users of older iPhone models make up the remaining 34.6%. This can be seen through two separate lenses in terms of what this may mean for future iPhone models.

Most intuitively, a sizable percentage of North American iPhone owners still use a device that debuted in 2011 or earlier, making it likely that many of those users will choose to upgrade in the near future. Apple has been vocal about the high degree of brand loyalty amongst iPhone users, so it’s reasonable to assume that when those older iPhone users do need a new device, many will presumably choose another iPhone. However, it’s likely some percentage of these customers bought and have stuck with an older device for budgetary reasons, meaning that they may choose an iPhone 5C or 5S instead of any upcoming model.

The opportunity to drive upgrades from current iPhone 5, 5C, and 5S users is likely more muted, but sizable nonetheless. Any new iPhone screen size(s) may act as extra motivation to upgrade for some consumers, and Apple has historically seen a lot of success in driving adoption of its new smartphones very shortly after they come on the market. Additionally, a sizable portion of that growth likely comes from a mix of brand loyalists and technophiles who upgrade their iPhones with each subsequent release.

While that group of users does their best to stay up to date with the latest Apple hardware, Apple itself has done a remarkable job keeping its entire user base on its newest OS versions.

A full 90% of North American iOS Web traffic comes from devices running iOS 7, largely thanks to Apple’s update strategy which isn’t subject to carrier controls and directly prompts eligible users to upgrade. It only took a week following the release of iOS 7 for the majority of iOS traffic to be coming from that version, so the release of iOS 8 can reasonably be expected to elicit a similar reception.

The OS X usage environment is more widely distributed than iOS, as there is a larger legacy base of Mac desktops and laptops, many of which may not necessarily be upgrade eligible to some more recent OS X versions. Even so, a majority of Mac OS X Web usage comes from users of the most recent publicly available OS version, OS X 10.9 Mavericks. A sizable percentage of these users will make the switch to OS X 10.10 Yosemite when it goes to general release, with the general consensus being that the new version will make its full debut later in the fall.

Apple’s precise announcements on September 9 will crystalize any shift in the company’s mobile and OS strategy, and as the largest company in the space, likely prove to have a tremendous impact on the entire industry and its direction.