Average Apple Device Lifespan Estimated at Just Over Four Years by Analyst

Asymco analyst Horace Dediu this week shared new research that focuses on determining the average lifespan of Apple devices. Dediu's research doesn't break down data on a specific product level, but instead encompasses Apple's entire stable of products in one general lifespan average. According to Dediu's proposal, if you use the number of active devices and cumulative devices sold, you can get to the average lifespan (via The Next Web).

Dediu's research on this topic was propelled forward when Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed the total number of active Apple devices -- 1.3 billion worldwide -- during the company's most recent earnings call. Now, the analyst proposed that to determine the average lifespan, you can subtract the known active devices number from cumulative devices sold to determine "cumulative retired devices."

Dediu then said that to estimate the average lifespan, you calculate the time between "cumulative devices sold" at the beginning of a product's lifespan, and the current "cumulative retired devices." He ultimately determined that the average Apple device lifespan is about 4 years and three months, when looking at the data of Apple products sold in Q2 2013 and retired in Q4 2017, a time when the 2013 devices died or otherwise stopped working and their owners sought to purchase new versions.

Dediu gave a detailed breakdown of his calculations:
Here’s how to compute this yourself: Visually, the lifespan is the distance horizontally between the two vertical bars such that the bars are the same length. The top vertical bar measures the gap between the area (cumulative devices) and the curve (active devices) and the lower bar is the gap between the area and the x-axis, i.e. the cumulative devices. When those two bars are the same size the distance between them is the lifespan (at the time of the top bar.)

Arithmetically, the average lifespan at a given time t is the duration between t and the moment when the cumulative devices sold reached the cumulative retired devices at time t.

For example today–as the visual above represents–the lifespan is the time since cumulative devices sold reached the current total retired devices. The cumulative retired devices can be calculated as 2.05 billion cumulative sold minus 1.3 billion active or 750 million. The time when cumulative devices sold reached 750 million was the third quarter 2013. The lifespan is thus estimated at the time between now and Q3 2013 or 17 quarters or about 4 years and three months.
He noted that cumulative devices sold for Apple includes Macs, iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and the iPod touch, although of course the lifespan average number is just that -- an average -- and doesn't perfectly apply to each individual product. Just over four years is likely in the ballpark for how long Mac users keep around their computers, but if looked at on a product-by-product basis that statistic would likely be different for iPhone and Apple Watch owners.

For more details on the topic, check out Dediu's full post on Asymco.com.

Tag: Asymco

Discuss this article in our forums

Apple Set to Earn $1 Trillion in Revenue From iOS Ecosystem By Middle of 2017

Apple's iOS ecosystem is on course to generate over $1 trillion in revenues for the company by the middle of this year, according to Asymco analyst Horace Dediu.

Dediu's prediction is based on several factors, starting with an expectation that Apple will have sold at least 1.2 billion iPhones in its first 10 years, earning it the rank of "most successful product of all time" and laying the foundations for the company's iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch, and Apple Watch categories.

In its first 10 years, the iPhone will have sold at least 1.2 billion units, making it the most successful product of all time. The iPhone also enabled the iOS empire which includes the iPod touch, the iPad, the Apple Watch and Apple TV whose combined total unit sales will reach 1.75 billion units over 10 years. This total is likely to top 2 billion units by the end of 2018.
Dediu claims revenue from iOS device sales will total about $980 billion by the middle of this year, and adds to that estimate more than $100 billon in revenues from supporting services (including app content sales), putting the ecosystem's total worth above the $1 trillion mark.

The analyst notes this excludes payouts to iOS app developers of around $60 billion, with the rate of payments now reaching $20 billion per year. Those numbers would appear to tally with comments made by Apple CEO Tim Cook last August that the company has paid out more than $50 billion to developers over the lifetime of the App Store, which first launched for the iPhone in 2008.

Dediu points to the locked-in nature of Apple's ecosystem ensuring the iPhone's resilience and longevity, despite strong competition from so-called "iPhone killers" that come and go, while its robust feature set and attached services continue to earn it the market reputation as the premium smartphone to beat.

In addition, the analyst claims that Android users are now more likely to switch to iOS rather than the other way around – a trend supported by previous reports from both market analysts and Apple, including, notably, comments made in the company's Q4 2016 earnings call.

Dediu ends by predicting not another "Big Bang" for the iPhone, but a "process of continual improvement" as the smartphone enters its second decade. Indeed, the analyst expresses more excitement for its network of "ancilliary smart accessories" like the Apple Watch, the AirPods, Apple Pencil, and other possible new wearables that point toward a future where the iPhone is a hub to a mesh of personal devices. "The seamless integration of such devices is what has always set Apple apart," Dediu concludes.

Related Roundup: iPhone 6s
Tag: Asymco
Buyer's Guide: iPhone (Neutral)

Discuss this article in our forums