The average lifespan of an Apple product is just over four years which is roughly twice as long as Android devices, according to new research published by a researcher for analytics firm Asymco.
Analyst Horace Dediu proposed that knowing how many active Apple devices there are, as well as the cumulative number of devices sold, allows one to calculate the average lifespan of an Apple product. Granted, the method is a bit hard to explain, so Dediu provided a helpful graph.
“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),” Dediu wrote.
The analyst did not break down the lifespan of individual products in the Apple ecosystem. The average, just about four years and three months, results from all of the devices in Apple’s product lineup.
To explain his methodology, Dediu said he received the four-year lifespan after looking at the number of Apple devices sold in the second quarter of 2013, and comparing that to the number of devices retired in the fourth quarter of 2017 — when those same devices stopped working or were otherwise replaced by their owners.
Dediu contends that this average lifespan is normally harder to calculate because Apple doesn’t routinely release how many monthly active devices it tracks. But Apple CEO Tim Cook actually revealed that critical number during the firm’s most recent earnings call (for the record, it’s 1.3 billion active devices worldwide).
Of course, that number shouldn’t be taken as the end-all, be-all for Apple device lifespans. For one, it’s an average and may not actually depict the lower or upper ranges of product lifespan.
Secondly, the cumulative number includes all Apple products — iPhones, iPads, iPod touches, Macs, Apple Watches, etc. As most Apple users know, different devices have different lifespans. Many Mac owners can attest to the fact that their computers can last well over four years if taken care of properly.
Lastly, and Dediu did not expand on this fact, but it’s not clear whether the calculation accounts for devices that were replaced due to malfunction or simply because their owners wanted a new device.
Dediu actually noted this in a comment on the Asymco post, writing that “this is not an estimate of product line lifespan. It’s an *actual* measurement of utilization.”
Interestingly, Asymco reader Melci points out that — using the same math — the average lifespan for an Android device is somewhere between one to two years.
In a previous research piece for Asymco, Dediu wrote that the average lifespan of Apple devices is likely increasing as time goes on. He estimated that two of every three Apple products sold at one time were still in use.