I create iOS apps. Seeing people use those apps can be a lot of fun. I’ve always been of the opinion that more app users is better. Because of that, I have been supporting iOS 3.0 for every app update since I started 3 years ago. As Joshua Aikens aptly put it, I wanted ‘Little old ladies with iPod Touches’ to have access to my apps.
I’m working on a new app that takes advantage of Twitter and Facebook sharing. The new Facebook SDK has some features with minimum OS requirements, and Twitter wasn’t integrated until iOS 4.0. That makes the decision more difficult.
If I decide to continue allowing older versions of iOS to use my applications that means I have to write extra code, or not use these new social features for users of my apps that are on iOS 4.2+.
Only 2% are stuck
I did some research on my user base and found that in fact, 98% of my users are using iOS devices that support iOS 5 and greater. Only 2% of my users are on devices that can’t upgrade.
The decision is difficult. However, there are three factors that pushed me to decide on moving all of my apps up to iOS 4.2+.
What pushed me to 4.2+
First, the iPhone 3G and 2nd Generation iPod touch are very old devices (forget about the first iPhone and iPod Touch). A couple of my family members have iPhone 3Gs on Tmobile, and they complain almost daily. The devices have gotten slow as Apple has opened up features on the devices with OS updates.
Second, the users on these devices aren’t the types of users that are buying apps on a daily basis. Because my business model is to make money by selling apps, I need to be targeting iOS users that are willing to spend money and purchase my product. If these users are holding on to their devices that max out at iOS 3.3 or 4.1 in order to save $10-15 on their phone bill, they are unlikely to spend $3-5 on one of my apps.
Finally, the mobile space is very competitive. In order to stay ahead of competition you need to be able to make changes and update your apps very quickly. If I want to stay competitive, being able to update my apps, and use new features offered by Apple will require me to force my users to have the latest OS.
What Would Apple Do?
In the end the easiest way to look at it was the success of Apple’s apps. In the store, they are far and away the highest grossing app company. Every one of Apple’s apps requires the latest OS. If they can manage high volumes of downloads without sacrificing development time on supporting previous OS versions, so can I.
I would really love to hear your thoughts on this. I haven’t pulled the trigger yet, and all feedback is valuable. You can reach me on Twitter.
Image Source: Technobuzz