CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Phones

This is how long your average Apple product will last

Commentary: Analyst Horace Dediu tries to work out the average lifespan of Apple devices. His short answer: about 4.3 years.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


How long will this relationship last?

Jason Cipriani/CNET

How long does it take before you look at your phone, tablet or laptop and whisper: "I'm sorry, my love. We're done"?

How does that moment arrive?

Is it because the device starts to slow? Or is it because it begins to look a little old and your friends are attached to shinier, newer gadgets?

I ask because Asymco analyst Horace Dediu just tried to work out how long the average Apple product is active before it's retired to an unmarked grave. Or even cremated.

His analysis is based on looking at how many Apple devices have ever been sold and comparing that number to how many are currently active.

The key, of course, lies in the number of devices that are active. Cupertino revealed during its recent first quarter call that there are 1.3 billion Apple devices currently in use.

This, Dediu deduces, means that 750 million Apple devices have taken their pensions. 

Working backwards to see when the number of sold devices was 750 million, Dediu found it was the third quarter of 2013. Ergo, the average lifespan for an Apple product is 4.3 years.

And this number, Dediu says, has actually increased over time.

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. However, a couple of years ago, the company's ecology-related assessments of its products suggested that it expected them to last a mere three years.

I wonder, though, how much these numbers are skewed by individual product categories that simply last much longer than others.

I've never owned an iPhone for as long as 4.3 years. On the other hand, it's well known that one of the issues with iPad sales is that people keep them for longer.

Moreover, as time has gone on, people have become much smarter about the devices they own. Indeed, in the last quarter of last year, smartphone sales fell for the first time

One of the contributing factors to this is likely that the market for refurbished gadgets is buoyant, especially as the price of new phones has breached the $1,000 mark.

None of this will, though, prevent companies from continually creating shiny new things. Last year, for example, Apple released three new phones. This year, Apple may release even more.

Yes, our sense of loyalty to our gadgets may be increasing, but we're always vulnerable to the seduction of the new, aren't we?

Technically Incorrect: Bringing you a fresh and irreverent take on tech.

Special Reports: CNET's in-depth features in one place.