Apple is abandoning some iOS devices, including the original iPad. That’s 15 million or so iPads that are still functional enough to fetch several hundred dollars getting left out. The iPhone 3GS also got dropped. And while previous iOS releases have already stranded the original iPhone, we’re reaching the point where there are significant numbers involved.
In addition, many devices that support iOS 7 don’t have access to all the features, meaning the number of iPhones, iPads and iPods that lack access to OS-level functions is growing.
Another threat is that thriving app ecosystem. Many existing apps haven’t been upgraded to iOS 7. Besides looking bad, reports show that 90% of apps that haven’t been upgraded either crash or don’t work properly when used with iOS 7. The changes required can be significant enough that some developers are charging users full price (treating the iOS 7 version as a new app) instead of the customary free upgrade.
All of the above, plus the customary rush to download the latest and greatest version of iOS (which often overloads Apple’s servers) has the potential to turn the release of iOS 7 and the new iPhones into a PR black eye for Apple instead of a triumph.
The company is acutely aware of the risk and taking preventive measures. 9to5Mac says Apple is letting customers who installed iOS7 on their device roll it back if they change their minds — something it doesn’t normally do. A few days ago, the App Store gained a feature that offers users the option of downloading the last compatible version of an app, helping prevent scenarios where older devices owners try to install incompatible iOS 7 apps.
Apple also upped the app size limit over wireless networks (there’s no Wi-Fi cap) to 100MB to allow for bigger files that contain multiple binaries (for both the 64-bit iPhone 5s and the rest of iOS devices which run 32-bit code).
According to Forbes, within 24 hours 18% of iPhone and iPad owners had already upgraded to iOS 7 so the launch is off to a good start. Apple isn’t out of the woods yet, though. The next week or two will be critical as people adjust to iOS 7 (or not) and any app fallout hits.
And while it will be nowhere near as bad as the Android camp, as the iOS 7 upgrade cycle winds down, Apple’s mobile ecosystem will be a little more fragmented than it was last week.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.