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Posts Tagged ‘ios5’

Drop iOS 5: Only support iOS 6

by in News on Nov. 20, 2012

Many people we talk to are concerned about developing software that targets newly-released or pre-release OSes.  What if most customers are still running iOS 5?  Isn’t it taking on unnecessary risk?

No.  By far the bigger risk is supporting old version of the OS like iOS 5.  For the vast majority of new software development, it’s a critical strategy failure to target old versions of iOS.  For new software projects, you should be targeting the shipping version or even preproduction versions.

Why is this?  Let me sketch it out on my whiteboard for you:

(I hope you will forgive me for not including many units in my rough sketches.  When I show this to clients, I’m usually talking about their specific project and using actual projections.  It’s pretty hard to come up with numbers that are accurate for every reader of this blog!)

Let’s take a look at your typical adoption curve.  What most people want to know is, “How many customers do I reach if I target iOS 6?”  And you will get various answers depending on when the figure was reported: within 48 hours of its release, adoption was 25-35%.  30 days following its release, it was about 60%.  Our own figures indicate that today adoption is in the 70-80% range.

But the dirty secret is that your app isn’t going to be released today–it’s going to be released (at least) several months from now, when the adoption statistics are even higher.  Perhaps the development time for a “typical” app is 90 days, and during those 90 days, an OS can go from 0% to 70% marketshare.  So there is literally nothing useful marketshare numbers will tell you that will still be accurate when your application is released.

Even worse, supporting older OSes takes additional time, which contributes to your ship date.  It is impossible to quantify exactly the cost of targeting older OSes, as for some applications it may present itself as test and debugging overhead, whereas for others it may present as months spent backporting new Apple technologies to previous devices.  Still in others, it may present as simply not having certain new features, like Passkit, not supporting the new 4″ screen of the iPhone 5, and so on.  However, let’s suppose you are doing something “average” and call it an additional 20% time to support iOS 5:

First, we see that adoption statistics are worse than useless, because the needle will move quite a bit over the course of development.  Second, we see that even as we have spent additional time trying to capture iOS 5 users, those users have continued to migrate to iOS 6.  Just doing nothing would have captured that marketshare.  The number of actual customers that we capture with an iOS 5 strategy is extremely small:

Just think: we have gone to all this time and effort, and extended our development schedule by 20 days, just to capture this very tiny sliver of the market.  Just for reference, contrast this with the size of the iOS 6 marketshare that we get “for free”:

So what you see here is that the Cost-To-Acquire (CTA) an iOS 5 customer is vastly, vastly more expensive than acquiring an iOS 6 customer.  It is 10x or 100x the cost per customer.  For the vast majority of applications, the cost to acquire iOS 5 users exceeds the licensing fees they would pay by a high multiplier.  (One of our client discovered that it was cheaper to buy a new device and mail it to each obsolete user than it was to continue supporting iOS 5!)  This is even before considering questions like how, if they are seemingly unaware of the software released by Apple, a multibillion dollar corporation, customers are going to hear about your software.  Or how, if they cannot afford to upgrade a 2-year-old device, they are going to afford your software.

Let’s look at our growth trajectory with two different release dates.  Obviously the trajectory for every application is different–some are linear, some have viral growth, many fail to sell at all.  Some enterprise applications have a fixed customer base. Still other software has a subscription model.  But the value of many kinds of applications (whether in licensing fees, in subscriptions, in business value, etc.) can be modeled with linear growth, so let’s take a look at linear growth after our app’s release:

 

We could have released our application for iOS 6 only after 90 days, and we would have achieved the growth shaded in green.  Alternately, we could have released our application for iOS 5 and 6 after 110 days, and we would have achieved the growth in red.  The difference between them is our revenue gap, and it is very, very difficult to close.  If conditions are ideal for a very long period of time, the right application may be able to close the gap.  But due to competitive and seasonal reasons there is no such thing as ideal conditions for long periods of time, so the gap is, for all practical purposes, uncloseable.    Not only has our iOS 5+6 app been more costly to produce; but it has also led to decreased revenue at any particular point in time due to a delayed launch.

But even that’s not the full story: the choice is not between the development team working 110 days vs just working for the first 90.  We have to consider the opportunity cost: what the development team could have done instead during those 20 days.  For example, they could have quickly shipped an update adding new functionality, or they could have watched customers use the application and released a quick update making the core app experience better and driving revenues even further.  Let’s take a look at what happens if our development team directs their energy into new features to attract even more customers:

If our revenue gap was uncloseable before, it’s definitely uncloseable now.  What started out as a perfectly innocuous question: “Should we target iOS 5 or iOS 6?” turns out to have implications that will probably save or sink your project.

Unfortunately, many people in charge of mobile projects are still stuck in a pre-iOS mindset where customers are always years behind.  This has been the reality in the desktop world, in the browser world, in the embedded world, and so on for many decades.  It is even still true on some mobile platforms, like Android.

But as we’ve seen, it’s quite dangerously wrong for iOS development.  This is one of the many reasons why, if iOS is an important component of your mobile strategy, it is vitally important to have a mobile strategist who truly understands iOS.  Your competitors have.

If you need a strategist to help you make sense of the iOS market, look no further!  Contact us today and get actionable insight to bring your products to market faster and more effectively.

Don’t support iOS 4

by in News on Jan. 29, 2012

Many clients mistakenly believe that supporting previous versions of iOS software is important.  But almost universally, supporting iOS 4 and earlier is a bad investment.

Most iOS users can upgrade

Unlike other platforms where software updates are provided for very limited windows, Apple’s updates run on devices up to two years old.

Apple works hard to make new versions of iOS available to an unprecedented number of users, even those users who may be running older devices.  The vast majority of your potential customers don’t need new hardware to run iOS 5.

Most iOS users have already upgraded

Within 5 days of launch, iOS 5 was in use by 33% of devices.  Marco reported in November that 48% of his customers were running iOS 5.  Bump reports that iOS 5 penetration is about 60%, (with the next-oldest OS, 4.3.3, being a paltry 9%).  Our internal statistics show that our customers are close to 70%-80% iOS 5 users.

And don’t underestimate the length of your development cycle.  New applications often take 90+ days to develop, and by the time your application actually ships, the numbers will be even higher.

Supporting iOS 4 is expensive

Supporting iOS 4 means double the test burden, means that everyone has to buy extra devices to test older configurations, and means that the cost to test your software triples.  These are the obvious costs.

Supporting iOS 4 has hidden costs too:  it means that great developer features introduced in the last 6 months can’t be used in your application.  This increases development time and cost significantly, as complex “workarounds” have to be created to avoid the use of these features.  These design choices can have long-lasting permanent effects on your software’s code base that will far outlive iOS 4.

But there’s another hidden cost:  supporting iOS 4 means using fewer iOS 5-specific features.  Apple users expect a high-value experience on their shiny new Apple device, and if your application fails to deliver the latest and greatest, you’ll get bad reviews.  If you have a competitor who produces a more highly-featured application, expect a large portion of your customer base to pass over your app in favor of the competing one with iCloud support and Notification Center integration, Twitter integration, and other iOS 5-only capabilities.

Supporting iOS 4 is bad for business

At this point, most of the iOS 4 holdouts are either people with very old devices (cheapskates unlikely to buy your product), or users who are technically incapable of performing a software update (and who will present a high technical support burden).  These are not the kind of customers you want to be burdened with.

Supporting iOS 4 can be attractive in a requirements list, but it can be a costly exercise that provides no real revenue to justify its cost.  Many developers make good money supporting iOS 4 at a markup, but in the best interests of our clients, we recommend that the vast majority of new applications be written to support a minimum of iOS 5, and that significant (non-bugfix) updates to existing apps seriously consider dropping support for older versions of the OS.  Focusing on iOS 5 provides the best value for most projects, and redirecting legacy costs into new feature development can be much more exciting for both you and your customers.

 

iPhone 4S announced

by in News on Oct. 5, 2011

Apple announced today the release of the iPhone 4GS.

Some of the major improvements, from an app developer point of view:

  • The new A5 chip will give mobile developers new opportunities for complex calculations. More than just the gaming examples Apple demonstrated in the keynote, productivity and business applications can also reap large benefits from the new chip.
  • The new camera and photography software will place an increased focus on video and photography applications. We see photography and videography apps as a major growth area on iOS.
  • Although Siri is still in beta, at the moment we are not aware of any opportunities for third-party developers to integrate with Siri and allow voice control of their applications.
  • AirPlay Mirroring, introduced on the iPad 2, makes it easier to display iOS apps in presentations.

The iPhone 4S is largely an incremental improvement over its predecessor rather than a complete redesign. It has many new and exciting features, but at this point it does not represent as large of a shift in iOS app development as iOS 5.

iOS 5 announced for October 12th.

by in News on Oct. 5, 2011

Apple announced the public release of iOS5 on October 12th today.

We have been testing iOS5 for several months now, and we are very excited about many of the new features:

  • Twitter Integration & Game Center improvements – Integrated properly, this can make apps more discoverable which translates directly into improved app rankings and sales
  • Newsstand – this is an important new feature for magazine and subscription applications. We expect to see many print publishers produce apps incorporating these features.
  • Notification Center – this will make notifications more useful in general. Since many applications send push notifications, this will make notifications less intrusive to users and will make it more likely for users to subscribe to push notifications knowing that they will be less invasive.
  • iCloud – we believe the ease of integrating iCloud and cloud syncing will reduce the technical bar to creating applications that share user content across multiple devices. With many users purchasing second and third iOS devices, data synchronization is more important than ever.
  • Automatic Reference Counting – while it’s not a user-visible feature, this important new technology helps reduce the cost and effort of writing iOS applications. We are working hard to get ARC technology baked into new applications and future updates.