According to analysis into figures released during the fourth quarter investor conference call, it is estimated that the average lifespan of an Apple device is just over four years. This suggests that iPhones and iPads remain in active use twice as long as the typical consumer iPhone upgrade cycle.
This analysis was undertaken by Asymco’s Horace Dediu and is based on figures that are provided by Apple each quarter, specifically for the number of devices the company sells. Dediu also based his findings on another rare figure that was revealed by Apple during the financial results, namely that it had grown its active install base to 1.3 billion devices, representing a staggering 30 percent growth over only two years.
This is only the second time that Apple has revealed its active installation base, the first being when it hit the 1 billion active device milestone in results released back in January 2016.
Dediu used the number of active devices, as well as the number of devices sold to approximate the average device lifespan (see below).
To do that, he created a graph to show the number of devices Apple sold since the first quarter of 2007, followed by a curve to show approximately how many active devices there are based on Apple’s released figures. For one quarter, the area of the graph below the line relates to the number of active devices while the area between the active device curve and the number of devices sold can determine how many devices have been retired since 2007.
The lifespan of a series of devices is said to be when the cumulative number of devices sold in the quarter equates to the amount retired in the later quarter. This duration between the two can then be taken as the estimated lifespan of the devices.
This includes Macs, iPhones, iPads, iPod Touch, and the Apple Watch. This means that the calculations cannot be broken down into specific categories, considering that some hardware types are assumed to be used longer than others, it would be more difficult to work out these figures without Apple providing more details statistics.
The second graph by Dediu (below) is based on his first graph and demonstrates the average lifespan for devices retired in a particular quarter. The graph seems to show the average lifespan increasing every few quarters since 2012, breaking four years in 2017, and shows the relatively recent trend of using Apple devices for a longer period of time will continue for a while longer.