updated 11:00 pm EST, Wed January 30, 2013
Reflects and improves on iOS 6's fast adoption rate
Because Apple lets users upgrade to the latest version of iOS on all compatible devices on the day its released, the adoption rate is naturally higher than on Android -- where carriers generally decide when or if a given device will receive updates on a model-by-model basis, and have a natural incentive to limit the upgradability of a device. Even so, reports that iOS 6.1 -- released on Monday -- is already installed on more than 22 percent of all compatible iOS devices represents the fastest uptake of a system update ever.
Both iOS 6 and 6.1 are available for the iPhone 3GS and later models, the iPad 2 and later and the fourth-generation iPod Touch (released in 2010). Apple recently revealed that over 300 million of the more than 500 million iOS devices ever sold were up-to-date with iOS 6 -- a roughly 60 percent penetration rate -- just five months after release. By comparison, only 1.2 percent of Android device owners are running the latest public release of Jelly Bean, Android 4.2. Another 10 percent are running the next-most-recent release (v4.1), but may not be able to upgrade their devices for weeks or months -- if ever -- depending on their carrier or device provider.
The iOS adoption figures come from a survey by Onswipe that measures adoption rates through their own app clients. As is usual, iPhone users upgraded to v6.1 at an even faster rate than iPad users, roughly 24 percent to 21 percent. The company's CEO says the faster adoption rate compared to iOS 6 (which was already remarkably high) is primarily due to the increasing familiarity with OTA (over-the-air) updating, which doesn't require users to connect the device to a computer in order to update (though connecting to a power source remains a recommended practice).
The fast adoption of iOS 6.1 was confirmed by web advertising and stats analysis firm Chitika, which said that around 15 percent of all iOS devices were running the new update just 24 hours after it was releasd (Onswipe estimated 11.5 percent). By comparison, iOS 6 adoption seems slow, having taken a full week to reach 45 percent penetration, but again this is faster uptake than any other platform -- mobile device or computer -- has ever achieved.
The ability of Apple to rapidly deploy major updates to the majority of its iOS user base within the first month of release is one of the main factors behind higher developer involvement and satisfaction in iOS over other platforms. The relatively uniformity of majority use of a particular version makes it far easier to code apps and incorporate the most advanced features, rather than having to target the lowest common denominator in order to gain sufficient sales.
On the Android platform, almost half of all active devices are still running the Gingerbread (3.x) releases, which were originally unveiled in May 2010. Windows Phone, as another example, has not gained much traction and is struggling to attract developers. The jury remains out on the latest Windows RT for the company's Surface tablet, but early sales have been far below expectations.