iOS 8 gets off to sluggish start

Apple iOS 8 on the iPhone
Credit: Apple

Uptake is less than half that of last year's iOS 7 in the first 24 hours

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The initial uptake for Apple's iOS 8 has been less than half of its predecessor, iOS 7, an online ad network said today, citing North American traffic.

In the 24 hours since its mid-day Wednesday launch, iOS 8 powered just 7.3% of all iOS devices that accessed Chitika's ad network, the company said in an email. "iOS 8 adoption has been remarkably slower than either iOS 7 or iOS 6," said Andrew Waber of Chitika.

Waber compared the 7.3% of iOS 8 against last year's iOS 7, which collected an 18.2% share of all iOS devices in the first 24 hours after its debut on Sept. 18, 2013. iOS 6's share was 14.8% after its first day.

iOS 8's uptake was just 40% of last year's iOS 7.

In a follow-up blog, Chitika laid out several theories why iOS received a "muted reception" at its start.

One possibility, the company said, was that the upgrade pool was limited to 2012's iPhone 5 and 2013's iPhone 5C and iPhone 5S. While the iPhone 4S, 2011's flagship, can run iOS 8, many have urged its owners to pass on the new OS, citing anecdotal accounts from past upgrades, when the oldest iPhones often became sluggish after the latest iOS was installed.

"If most [iPhone] 4S users decide to stick with their current OS, then the maximum potential adoption of iOS 8 shrinks to just over 65% of the North American iPhone user base who use iPhone 5-type models," Chitika asserted, again citing its traffic data for the iPhone breakdown by model.

Chitika also wondered if the installation space requirements -- 5GB and more -- stymied many with iPhones equipped with less storage space, or any that had been crammed with music, movies, apps and other content.

"This meant that some users needed to delete or move a significant amount of items off their device to download the update, especially for users of phones like an 8GB iPhone 5C, where this process would be made even more difficult," Chitika contended.

One of the biggest beefs that's surfaced about iOS 8 has been the free-space requirement. Even after deleting content, including precious apps, some have not been able to free up enough space for an over-the-air upgrade.

The workaround is to upgrade after connecting the iPhone to a Windows PC or Mac that has the latest version of iTunes installed. (iphonehacks.com has a quick step-by-step.) Customers new to the iPhone after October 2011, when Apple released iOS 5 -- the first to offer over-the-air updates, or ones that did not require that the device be plugged into a personal computer -- may not even know that iTunes can be used to install upgrades.

Another possible factor in play, said Chitika, was the record-setting pre-orders for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Customers who have ordered a new phone, or plan to buy one Friday at an Apple or carrier retail store, would be uninterested in upgrading their older-but-soon-to-be-discarded-or-sold iPhones.

The slow uptake by iOS 8 ran counter to Chitika's forecast of last week. "It only took a week following the release of iOS 7 for the majority of iOS traffic to be coming from that version, so the release of iOS 8 can reasonably be expected to elicit a similar reception," Chitika said on Sept. 8.

Some iPhone users may simply pass on iOS 8. Last year's iOS 7 was a major upgrade in that it was a visual refresh of the mobile operating system, the first since the 2007 debut of what was then called "iPhone OS." Without a similar reason to upgrade -- iOS 8 looks very similar to its immediate forerunner -- some may simply decide it's not worth the trouble.

iOS 8 uptake rates compared to iOS 7 and iOS 6 Chitika.

iOS 8's initial uptake was less than half that of iOS 7's last year, or even 2012's iOS 6, according to traffic metrics from a mobile ad network. 

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