iOS 8 adoption lags behind that of iOS 7

The latest version of Apple's mobile OS isn't yet gaining the traction that its predecessor did last year. Why might that be?

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
4 min read

As of early Friday, mobile analytics firm Mixpanel reported an adoption rate of 21.6 percent for iOS 8. Apple

iOS users haven't so far been as eager to jump to iOS 8 as they were to grab iOS 7 last year, according to several mobile analytics reports released on Thursday.

Apple launched its iOS 8 mobile operating system on Wednesday with a host of tweaks and refinements, including support for Apple Pay, a new predictive-typing keyboard, a "Hey Siri" feature, better Spotlight searches, new camera and photo editing capabilities, and a new Health app. Adoption of the new version so far has lagged behind that of iOS 7 over the same initial period last year.

Data released early Thursday from mobile analytics firm Mixpanel showed iOS 8's adoption rate at around 14.22 percent since its launch at 10 a.m. PT Wednesday. On September 18, 2013, when iOS 7 launched, Mixpanel reported an adoption rate of about 15 percent before the day had even ended. The day after iOS 7 was released, the rate shot up to 38 percent.

As of early Friday, Mixpanel's results show a healthier adoption rate for iOS 8 of 21.6 percent, much more promising but still far trailing the rate for iOS 7 at the same time last year.

Other mobile analytics firms have also noted a slower adoption rate for the new iOS.

In a blog posted on Thursday, mobile ad platform Tapjoy found that iOS 7 reached a 12 percent adoption rate after 18 hours, while iOS 8 hit only 6 percent over the same period of time. Analytics firm Chitika found that after the initial 24 hours, iOS 7 had hit an 18.2 adoption rate, while iOS 8 had reached just 7.3 percent.

So why is iOS 8 apparently attracting fewer upgrades than did its predecessor? A few reasons spring to mind.

Last year, iOS 7 introduced a radically new look and feel to Apple's mobile OS. Though some users complained about the new design, the changes did represent a major and long overdue shift in the way iOS presented itself. Version 7 also introduced new system controls and notifications, iTunes Radio, AirDrop, automatic updates, and a new way of juggling multiple apps.

iOS 8 does offer several appealing refinements, but it may be missing that one killer app or feature to convince people they need the new version right away. Apple did add support for Apple Pay, but you need the new iPhone 6 with near-field communication, or NFC, to use the payments system. Apple also added a Health app to help you keep track of your health and fitness. But until third-party developers start to support the app, it's limited in functionality for now.

Tapjoy also suggested a couple of the ideas.

"Based on Tapjoy's network-wide data, which has a reach of over 200 million unique iOS consumers per month, iOS 8 is being adopted at a significantly slower rate than iOS 7," Patrick Seybold, Tapjoy vice president for Communications & Marketing Partnerships, said in Thursday's blog. "This is likely due to having a separate release schedule for the software and hardware with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus not having been delivered to consumers just yet. It could also be because the download takes up quite a bit of space -- about 1GB."

iOS 8 is packed with feature upgrades (pictures)

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The folks at Chitika also proposed their own theories about the "muted reception" to iOS 8.

"Perhaps most importantly, the pool of iPhones eligible to upgrade to iOS 8 is limited to iPhone 5S, 5C, 5, and 4S models, and many outlets have suggested that iPhone 4S users should not upgrade due to subsequent performance and functionality issues," Chitika said in its blog. "If most 4S users decide to stick with their current OS, then the maximum potential adoption of iOS 8 shrinks to just over 65 percent of the North American iPhone user base who use iPhone 5-type models."

Chitika also noted that some people ran into trouble downloading the update due to the size of the installation. Some users with limited available storage on their iPhone or iPad reportedly had to delete content in order to free up enough space to house the new OS.

With sales of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus kicking off today and preorders already having set record numbers, adoption of iOS 8 will naturally shoot higher. Could demand for the new iPhones be limiting the desire among current users to upgrade their existing phones? If I own an older iPhone and plan to buy an iPhone 6, I might not be in such a hurry to download the latest version. At least, that's another theory proposed by Chitika.

"For any current iPhone users planning to buy either of the new devices, which come pre-loaded with iOS 8, the impetus to update their soon-to-be former phone is minimal," Chitika suggested.