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iOS Versions in the Wild

Apple sends a clear message to us developers: “Stop supporting 3.x”. They say that most loudly by omitting Simulator 3.2 from Xcode 4.1 which I painfully noticed when I wanted to debug a 3.2 bug in a component of mine. I had updated everything to Lion and installed Xcode 4.1 because that’s the first version supporting Lion.

So if you are basing your operations on the most current “stable” versions of the OS and Xcode then you cannot support 3.2 without jumping through some extra hoops. So I did some research to find if anybody is actually still using 3.2. Unfortunately Apple forbids ad networks from collecting and publishing device data because that would also show us info about future iOS devices.

So what is the trend and current status? Read on.

In March Marco Arment published statistics on what devices and iOS versions users of Instapaper 3.0 are on. These numbers a skewed by the sample taken from his users (tech geeks and avid readers), but still are a good sign of things to come:

  • 4.0 and above = 98.2%
  • less than 4.0 = 1.8 %

At about the same time Jesse Collis asked the same question “Is it worth supporting iOS 3 in 2011?” and came to a similar conclusion:

  • Paying customers are more likely to update their iOS version: 94% use 4.x
  • Non-paying customers lag a little more behind: 13% still on 3.x
That was in MARCH.

The most recent data I could find came from German Ad Network Apprupt at the end of June.

Alls these measurements depend on the sample, but even if we take the median of all these measurements we arrive at about 5%. For all intents and purposes we can safely say that iOS 3 is dead, long live iOS 4.

But even iOS 4 has seen many iterations in the past year, so Claus Bloch kindly provided this statistic to let us gauge how willing our users really are in upgrading. Granted the past few releases did not bring any new functionality, but where for the most part security fixes. Apple has finished adding really new stuff to iOS 4 about a year ago and is now obviously concentrating on getting iOS 5 out of the door.

These stats taken from “It’s Your Round”, available on the app store.

At the time of this writing you can see that this shows our users as very anxious to update. More than two thirds of users can be found in distributed amongst the last 3 point releases. As I said those are just security things which most people are not really caring much for: the geolocation history fix, the PDF fix and another one I don’t even recall.


iOS users – paying ones more than those who are broke – are generally updating very quickly, even within the iterations over the current generation of operating system. Anybody who HAS 3.x still is very unlikely to pay for your app anyway.

Do yourself a favor and ditch iOS 3 as soon as possible.

Categories: Apple

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