Apple iPhone installed base in US slightly up, but upgrade cycle now at 4 years

Apple iPhone installed base in US slightly up, but upgrade cycle now at 4 years

Apple's iPhone installed base was slightly up in the US, according to one research firm's analysis. However, as another analyst noted, the iPhone's upgrade/replacement cycle is now much longer at four years.

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Apple iPhone installed base in US slightly up, reports research firm CIRP. However, the upgrade cycle now at 4 years, according to another analyst. (Image source: Reuters)

Apple’s iPhone installed base was slightly up in the US for the quarter ending December 30, 2018, but sales of the iPhones had slowed down, according to a new research by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP). Meanwhile, another analyst has observed that the iPhone’s average upgrade cycle is now four years, instead of the earlier three years.

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First, CIRP estimates that around 62 million iPhones were sold worldwide in the quarter, and their analysis showed that the iPhone US installed base reached 189 million units as of December 30, 2018.

This 189 million represents a 2 per cent relative growth compared to the September 2018 quarter, which was around 185 million units at the end of the September 2018. In December 2017, this number is estimated to be around 166 million by CIRP.

The agency is basing this estimate from the ASP of the iPhone at $839 and Apple’s disclosed iPhone revenue. Apple has stopped disclosing the number of iPhones, iPads, etc, which are sold per quarter.


“With slowing iPhone sales, the installed base of iPhones in use in the US grew only slightly in the quarter. As Apple itself indicated, iPhone revenues declined relative to last year, driven primarily by reduced demand in overseas markets. US sales remain relatively stable, which shows up in slight growth in the US installed base,” Josh Lowitz, CIRP Partner and Co-Founder said on the report.

He also pointed out that there are now “longer replacement cycles and high loyalty rates for consumers upgrading from iPhones as well as Android phones.”

According to him, the modest growth in the installed base of iPhones was driven by “first-time smartphone buyers and the limited number of platform switchers from Android to iOS.”

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However, the report is based on CIRP survey of 500 US Apple customers, surveyed from December 31, 2018 – January 10, 2019 and this includes those who purchased an iPhone, iPad, or Mac in the US in October-December 2018 period.

While the actual number of iPhone units sold worldwide is not confirmed, given Apple is no longer revealing this, the bit about longer upgrade cycle has also been noted by  Toni Sacconaghi from Bernstein, according to 9to5Mac.

The analyst had also commented that the “replacement cycles are elongating… a lot,” for the iPhone. Sacconaghi had said that “the average iPhone upgrade time has increased to four years, up from three years.”

In his note to investors, he said that users are less inclined to upgrade given Apple’s battery replacement program and higher prices. The report on 9to5Mac quotes Sacconaghi as saying in his note that while the iPhone installed base is growing (up 9 per cent), they expect units to be down by -19 per cent in fiscal 2019.