Mark Gurman (9to5Mac) does it again, with another scoop on Apple’s plans. One (of several) interesting points is around support for older iOS devices. Now, even today, Apple supports iPhones and iPads for meaningfully longer than Android OEMs (or carriers) support Android devices. Gurman reports:
Our sources note that even A5-based Apple devices, including the original iPad mini and discontinued iPhone 4S, will be able to run iOS 9. […]
Instead of developing a feature-complete version of iOS 9 for older hardware and then removing a handful of features that do not perform well during testing, Apple is now building a core version of iOS 9 that runs efficiently on older A5 devices, then enabling each properly performing feature one-by-one. Thanks to this new approach, an entire generation (or two) of iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches will be iOS 9-compatible rather than reaching the end of the iOS line.
His contacts don’t outline the logic for extended support, but below are several likely reasons. Essentially, it helps Apple reach more consumers with devices and increases the installed base of consumers that can buy apps and services, including Apple’s expected new video and music streaming services. And – crucially – it helps Apple reach lower price points without resorting to building low-margin products.
The longer iOS devices live, the bloodier the low-cost Android smartphone market becomes.
Here’s the thinking, in more detail:
- Buyers who keep the iPhone benefit from its longer life. Family members benefit from a more useful hand-me-down.
- Buyers (or re-sellers) that sell it can earn a higher price, or a faster sale, or simply deal in that product type, profitably, for a longer time.
- The second owner is happy to buy a device that will last longer. Android devices usually don’t bring that benefit.
- This enhances Apple’s reputation (helping sales), earns goodwill (what Android device receives OS support for very long?), and sell more apps and content (except in markets with high piracy; yes, like China).
- Equally, as Apple rolls out new services – video streaming, music streaming – it benefits by allowing more devices to access those new services.
- Finally – but still notably – it’s a mechanism for Apple to reach low price points that it can’t reach with new iOS devices.
A bit more on #6. The longer an iPhone (or iPad lives), the lower its street price becomes. And yet, with good iOS support, it still works. Effectively, that’s an iOS device at a price point that Apple would never otherwise meet. It’s at a price point (range) currently addressed by low-cost Android OEMs, who survive (?) on razor-thin margins. The longer iOS devices live, the bloodier the low-cost Android smartphone market becomes.
Now, you might say: Apple doesn’t make money on that older device — it sold it years ago. So who cares about reaching a lower price point? Technically, Apple can still make apps, content, and services revenue. And it’s a sale that Android misses. And, honestly, almost no one makes money at those price points anyway.