iOS 8

Arrested development: iOS 8 continues to trail forerunner by big margin

Users pan upgrade by not bothering to update

Apple iOS 8 on the iPhone

iOS 8

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Uptake of Apple's new iOS 8 mobile operating system has failed to catch up to the boom of last year's iOS 7, according to Apple and third-party measurements.

By Apple's own iOS distribution tracking, iOS 8 has gained just one percentage point since Sept. 21, moving from 46% then to 47% currently. Apple measures iOS uptake from visits to its App Store, and publishes the numbers on its developer support website, which is available to the public and not only to registered developers.

Data from mobile analytics vendors show a similar hesitation to upgrade to iOS 8, although in some ways their figures put the operating system in an even poorer light.

Both Fiksu and Mixpanel, which monitor the activity of iPhone owners via the analytics embedded in clients' apps, reported a lukewarm reception for iOS 8, and put the newest OS behind last year's iOS 7 at the same point in its post-release timeline.

Fiksu, for example, pegged iOS 8 at 38.4% of all versions of iOS as of Monday, 19 days after its debut. That was a significantly lower share than either 2012's iOS 6 (with a 57.4% share after 19 days) or last year's iOS 7 (58%), and only slightly ahead of 2011's iOS 5 (34.4%).

Mixpanel tapped iOS 8's share of all iOS at 45.2% on Monday, behind iOS 7's 69.8% at the same point in its post-launch process.

But iOS 8's uptake hasn't stalled, as some have alleged. In the last nine days, iOS 8 has gained 8.1 percentage points, more than the 6.8 points iOS 7 grew in the same span last year. In the last five days, the two were neck and neck at a 3.2-point increase each.

The delay in upgrading to iOS 8 is probably temporary -- in the past, even slowly adopted editions have eventually cornered 90% or more of the installed base -- but it still must be concerning to Cupertino. The slower the uptake, or worse, a failure by many to upgrade at all, would give developers pause, something Apple doesn't need, and stymie the company's plans to further tie iOS and OS X with its Continuity feature set, a move that some analysts expect will boost Mac sales.

None of the data -- not Apple's or Fiksu's or Mixpanel's -- offers a clear-cut reason why iOS 8 uptake has flailed. But the prominence of news about the debacle of iOS 8.0.1 had to have some impact. The story broke out of the technology news penitentiary when mainstream media outlets reported that the update crippled new iPhones.

Many iPhone and iPad owners have also been frustrated by the free-space requirements of iOS 8 when downloaded via a cellular or Wi-Fi connection. In some instances, iOS 8 demands as much as 7GB of free space, a challenge to owners of iPhones and iPads equipped with only 16GB of storage space.

Although the workaround for space-constrained devices is to download and install iOS 8 using iTunes on a Mac or Windows PC, many iPhone and iPad owners don't have a clue about how to do that -- especially people new to the platform since October 2011, when Apple instituted over-the-air updates that circumvented the hassle of connecting devices to computers.

iOS 8 can be downloaded over the air from iPhones, iPads, iPad Minis and iPod Touches, or through iTunes. From an iPhone, for instance, users must touch the "Settings" icon, then the "General" button on the resulting screen. Tapping "Software Update" will kick off the update process.

iOS 8 uptake rate Fiksu

iOS 8's uptake was slow out of the gate compared to last year's explosive iOS 7, and has failed to close the gap since then.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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