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iPhone App Marketing Series: When to End App Support for iPhone OS 2.x?

By deans ~ June 26th, 2009. Filed under: App Marketing, Resources.

Now that the iPhone OS 3.0 software is generally available, many developers are asking the same question.  “When should we stop testing on, and supporting, iPhone OS 2.x?”  When planning for the transition, I originally thought that we’d release updates, tested on 3.0, but built for 2.2.1, until sometime in August.  That would probably cover two updates for our apps (we’re trying to shorten our cycles, but…).  This is primarily a resource and productivity issue for us.  We have kept half of our devices at 2.2.1 for testing, and we have maintained one of our development machines configured with the old Xcode and the 2.x versions of the SDK.  We also spend a non-trivial (and not particularly productive) chunk of time testing our apps on both 2.2.1 and 3.0.  It would sure be nice to focus all of our resources and energy on development for a single version of the OS.

My hesitation has been based on the fear of losing potential customers who haven’t upgraded to the newest version of the OS.  Fortunately, a number of apparently independent sources are suggesting that uptake of the new OS is much faster than I might have expected.  With this latest news, it’s starting to look like we’ll cut over completely to 3.0 much sooner than I’d originally planned.

Here’s some of what I’m looking at:

Paul, over at Tapbots is reporting (dated 2009.06.23) that:

“It’s pretty clear that at least our customers are upgrading to 3.0 at an incredibly fast pace.”

running at an overall 75% upgrade rate which is pretty insane considering the number of devices and the fact that its only been 5 days.”

“The iPhone upgrade rate is a bit higher then the overall rate, currently sitting at 79%.”

the iPod Touch has just passed 50%.”

The post also has some nice graphs of what they’re seeing.  They promise to update the post as new information comes in.  I’ll be checking back periodically.

In a similar vein, AdMob just published a report (Their graphs are dated 2009.06.20, so this covers just a few days after the iPhone OS 3.0 software was generally available) that also suggests strong, albeit somewhat lower uptake rates for the iPhone:

44% of iPhone ad requests coming from the 3.0 OS

AdMob’s data suggests that just 1% of requests coming from iPod touches are originating with devices running 3.0.

For as long as they continue to be available, here are the charts from AdMob:
AdMob:  44% of iPhone ad requests coming from the 3.0 OS
AdMob:  44% of iPhone ad requests coming from the 3.0 OS
Of course, it’s always possible that we’re seeing sample bias in these two reports.  Perhaps customers of Tapbots and users of apps that present AdMob ads are not representative of the total population.  However, I’m inclined to believe the trend, if not the specific figures.  The 3.0 upgrades are too compelling (and free for iPhone users) to ignore.  I predict that we’ll see 80% adoption across the board by the end of July.

It will be fascinating to see how these numbers change over the next couple of weeks, but I’m now thinking that we’ll jump to 3.0 even sooner than I’d planned.  These trends suggest that we’ll be able to continue to address the mainstream iPhone market, while allowing our development team to be more focused on building good new stuff, rather than testing on permutations of OS versions.

What kind of conclusions are you reaching about this?  Please let us know.

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