5 Reasons Why Adoption of iOS 8 Is Lagging Apple’s Previous Upgrades

Source: Mixpanel.com

Apple’s recently announced first-weekend iPhone sales of more than 10 million units confirmed what many industry watchers and consumers already knew: that the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models are highly popular. However, while consumers appear eager to get their hands on Apple’s latest hardware, the same can’t be said for the company’s latest operating system. According to data from multiple mobile analytics companies, the user adoption rate for Apple’s iOS 8 mobile operating system is lagging the adoption rates seen for previous upgrades.

The slower rate of adoption for iOS 8 was first highlighted by online advertising network Chitika, which said that iOS 8 only accounted for a 7.3 percent share of North American iOS Web traffic about 24 hours after it was made available on September 17. In contrast, adoption of iOS 6 reached 14.8 percent during the same time period in 2012 and a record 18.2 percent for iOS 7 in 2013.

The slow adoption trend continued over the launch weekend, confirmed by mobile analytics platforms Mixpanel and Appsee. According to Mixpanel’s data, iOS 8 adoption was around 32 percent on Monday afternoon, while Appsee recorded a slightly higher adoption rate of about 33 percent. In comparison, Mixpanel recorded an adoption rate of nearly 60 percent for iOS 7 after the iPhone launch weekend last year. When Apple announced 2013’s first-weekend iPhone sales numbers, the company even highlighted the popularity of iOS 7 by noting that more than 200 million devices had downloaded the software, “making it the fastest software upgrade in history.”

The slower adoption rate for iOS 8 seems even more curious when considering that iOS 7 was a controversial upgrade for many users because of the radical design changes that Apple implemented with it. With iOS 7, Apple ditched many of the skeuomorphic design elements that had long characterized its mobile operating system. Apple also introduced zooming effects and parallax animations in iOS 7 that caused some users to feel dizzy and nauseous, as reported by The Verge. So why does it appear that Apple users are avoiding iOS 8 like the plague this year? Here are five possible reasons.

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1. Fewer eligible iPhones (Sorry, iPhone 4)

Unlike last year’s iOS 7 update, Apple’s latest operating system does not apply to the iPhone 4. Per Apple, iOS 8 is only available for “iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPod touch 5th generation, iPad 2, iPad with Retina display, iPad Air, iPad mini and iPad mini with Retina display.” This means that even if every eligible iOS-based device upgraded to iOS 8, the adoption rate might still lag iOS 7 due to the significant number of older-generation Apple devices that will be forced to run iOS 7 or older operating systems.

The number of devices running iOS 8 might be further constrained due to problems with running iOS 8 on the iPhone 4S, as noted by Ars Technica. According to Chitika, if most North American iPhone 4S owners decide to stick with an older version of iOS, the pool of potential iOS 8 adopters will shrink to just over 65 percent of the total North American iPhone user base. Of course, as more iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models are sold, the number of devices running older versions of iOS will become relatively smaller. Per Mixpanel’s data, the total number of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus models combined only accounted for less than 4 percent of all iPhone models in use on September 22.

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2. iOS 8 performance issues (Needs iViagra?)

As previously noted, many users have reported issues with running iOS 8 on the A5 processor-powered iPhone 4S. However, even users who have newer iPhone models are reporting multiple problems with iOS 8. According to GottaBeMobile, iPhone 5-type model users are complaining about problems such as bad Wi-Fi, slow Safari, random reboots, Mail app crashes, battery life issues, and glitches in the new Family Sharing feature.

Apple’s iPhone isn’t the only product in the famliy encountering problems with the iOS 8 upgrade. Many iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display owners are reporting similar issues. While Apple will hopefully soon be issuing software updates to fix these problems, it would not be surprising if many Apple users are holding off on updating their devices until all the bugs are fixed.

Chris McGrath/Getty Images

3. Space issues (iOS 8 is iLarge)

Besides being buggy and unavailable for the iPhone 4, the installation software for Apple’s latest operating system is also quite large. While an owner of a 64GB-capacity iPhone may not think twice about downloading the 5GB iOS 8 installation file over the air, owners of an entry-level 16GB iPhone 5S or an 8GB iPhone 5C will likely have to move or delete files from their device in order to make room. While some of the space constraints can be alleviated by updating via iTunes, there may still be many users who are opting to stick with an older version of iOS just because of the iOS 8 space requirements.

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4. Server issues (iCan’t upgrade)

As noted by GottaBeMobile, the initial launch of iOS 8 on September 17 was plagued by overloaded server issues, with some users reporting download times of up to six hours. Needless to say, some users may have gotten frustrated with the long download times and decided to put off updating their devices until after the rush. While this issue will presumably become less of a problem as time goes on, it may have helped drive down the iOS 8 adoption rate over the past few days.

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5. There are no major changes in iOS 8 (What’s the iPoint?)

Last year, some users were reluctant to upgrade their devices due to the radical design differences between iOS 6 and iOS 7. This year, many users may be declining to upgrade to iOS 8 for the opposite reason. Although iOS 8 includes new features like Health app, HomeKit, Family Sharing, and iCloud Drive, there are no major design differences between iOS 7 and iOS 8. In addition, with Apple’s backend HealthKit tool still on the fritz, ongoing problems with Family Sharing, and an iCloud Drive update that only works with the unreleased OS X Yosemite, many users may not see the point of upgrading to iOS 8 just yet.

Follow Nathanael on Twitter @ArnoldEtan_WSCS

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