Three theories why iOS 8 adoption is slow on the uptake

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Nearly three weeks after Apple rolled out its latest mobile operating system, the company says less than half of visits to its App Store come from devices with iOS 8 installed. Just 47 percent have upgraded, while 47 percent are still running iOS 7 (and 6 percent are clinging to even earlier versions). These figures are unusual: Apple’s OS adoption rate is famously fast. So why are people holding on to iOS 7?

At first, the rate of iOS installs skyrocketed —up to 46 percent in just six days. In the next two weeks, that number ticked up just 1 percent. iOS 8 still has time to challenge iOS 7’s adoption rate, which hit 75 percent after three months and became Apple’s fastest-growing mobile OS, but it seems like slow going so far.

I have three theories as to why people are waiting to upgrade:

Storage

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iOS 8 adoption is neck-and-neck with iOS 7 as of Oct. 5.

When iOS 8 dropped, I rushed to install it over the air, and like many other early adopters, I realized with dismay that the upgrade was far too large for my 16GB iPhone 5s. I didn’t do the smart thing and wait to install the update from iTunes. Instead, I just deleted a bunch of apps and then waited a million years for my iCloud backup to kick in after upgrading.

But at least I knew iTunes was an option. I was just too impatient. The Internet was flooded with complaints about iOS 8’s size, and few knew that installing the update from iTunes would negate that problem. It wouldn’t surprise me if a slew of iPhone owners decided to skip iOS 8 due to space issues.

iOS 8.01

Apple released iOS 8.01 a week after iOS 8 dropped, but the update that was intended to fix a few bugs in the OS instead made the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus basically unusable. News of the botched update spread quickly, making national news. Though Apple helped users downgrade from iOS 8.01 to iOS 8 and quickly issued iOS 8.02, the damage had been done. If you were still trying to figure out how to make room to install iOS 8, media reports about the bugs in iOS 8.01 were likely enough to give you pause—or hold back from upgrading altogether.

Faulty numbers

Apple helpfully tracks iOS install base percentages so developers know what they’re dealing with, but those numbers are based on App Store visits. If your device automatically updates apps in the background, you might not have had reason to visit the App Store. This doesn’t sound plausible to someone who races to install cool new apps—all the HealthKit-integrated ones, to start—but it’s not a high priority for every iOS user.

Do you have any other theories as to why iOS 8 adoption is dragging? Let us know in the comments.

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