updated 06:52 am EDT, Wed October 3, 2012
Strong debut compares to sluggish Android 4.x rate
Android's fragmentation issue -- where different devices are limited to different versions of the OS, and most users are dependent on their carrier to decide when or if they will get updates -- has limited adoption of the Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0) and later versions of the OS to just 25 percent of Android devices. By comparison, Apple's iOS 6 has managed to reach a staggering 60 percent adoption rate on the iPhone and 41 percent on the iPad just over a week after it was released, according to statistics from website conversion provider Onswipe.
The company, which assists conventional websites in adapting to touch-based devices, sampled 100,000 users through its partner websites and says the adoption rate for iOS 6 is unprecedented, reports TechCrunch. By comparison, iOS 5 adoption was at 38 percent of iPhones after the first month of release.
The statistics from Onswipe are in general agreement with user stats from read-it-later app Pocket, and the corroboration is good news for developers, who see increased activity from users when their apps are updated for the new OS. The Pocket blog also reported that 20 percent of all users accessing the service daily are already on an iPhone 5.
Media reports that have focused on issues with Apple's new Maps application or other less severe early issues may be guilty of underplaying the many significant new features in iOS 6 that users seem to be quickly adopting, such as the VIP mailbox in Mail, improved syncing of notes and reminders among other items using iCloud, improvements in speed and stability as well as a redesigned App Store, improvements in Siri, full Facebook integration, Messages, FaceTime over 3G/LTE, and improvements in the Phone application that give users many more options on how to handle incoming phone calls.
According to Apple, over 100 million iOS device users have already upgraded to iOS 6, meaning that just under 25 percent of all iOS devices ever sold are running the latest operating system. Partial credit for that may go to Apple's decision to make iOS compatible with iPhones as far back as the 3GS as well as the iPad 2 and later, along with the two most recent versions of the iPod Touch, creating a wide pool of devices that are compatible.
On Android devices, version 2.3 (Gingerbread) still dominates with over 55.8 percent adoption (not including some 13 percent running Android 2.2). Most of the devices still using it cannot be upgraded either due to mechanical limitations or because carriers opted not to support the update, hoping users would be pressured into buying newer devices instead. Google's own Platform Versions page shows that Android 4.x has a combined 25 percent adoption, with the majority on 4.0 and just 1.8 percent running the latest release, known as Jelly Bean, which came out in June.
The news of iOS 6's staggering adoption rate is especially welcome to developers, since they can incorporate new features dependent on iOS 6 without worrying that they are alienating too large a segment of their user audience. It also means they don't have to wait to add those features until adoption reaches a "critical mass," one of the issues that hobbled 64-bit Intel program optimization for the first few years. Despite stopping the manufacture of PPC-based machines in 2007, it was not until 2011's release of Lion that Apple felt comfortable completely removing the ability to run PPC-based software. [via TechCrunch]