Average Apple Device Lifespan Estimated at Just Over Four Years by Analyst

Asymco analyst Horace Dediu this week shared new research that focuses on determining the average lifespan of Apple devices. Dediu's research doesn't break down data on a specific product level, but instead encompasses Apple's entire stable of products in one general lifespan average. According to Dediu's proposal, if you use the number of active devices and cumulative devices sold, you can get to the average lifespan (via The Next Web).


Dediu's research on this topic was propelled forward when Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed the total number of active Apple devices -- 1.3 billion worldwide -- during the company's most recent earnings call. Now, the analyst proposed that to determine the average lifespan, you can subtract the known active devices number from cumulative devices sold to determine "cumulative retired devices."

Dediu then said that to estimate the average lifespan, you calculate the time between "cumulative devices sold" at the beginning of a product's lifespan, and the current "cumulative retired devices." He ultimately determined that the average Apple device lifespan is about 4 years and three months, when looking at the data of Apple products sold in Q2 2013 and retired in Q4 2017, a time when the 2013 devices died or otherwise stopped working and their owners sought to purchase new versions.


Dediu gave a detailed breakdown of his calculations:

Here’s how to compute this yourself: Visually, the lifespan is the distance horizontally between the two vertical bars such that the bars are the same length. 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.)

Arithmetically, the average lifespan at a given time t is the duration between t and the moment when the cumulative devices sold reached the cumulative retired devices at time t.

For example today–as the visual above represents–the lifespan is the time since cumulative devices sold reached the current total retired devices. The cumulative retired devices can be calculated as 2.05 billion cumulative sold minus 1.3 billion active or 750 million. The time when cumulative devices sold reached 750 million was the third quarter 2013. The lifespan is thus estimated at the time between now and Q3 2013 or 17 quarters or about 4 years and three months.

He noted that cumulative devices sold for Apple includes Macs, iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and the iPod touch, although of course the lifespan average number is just that -- an average -- and doesn't perfectly apply to each individual product. Just over four years is likely in the ballpark for how long Mac users keep around their computers, but if looked at on a product-by-product basis that statistic would likely be different for iPhone and Apple Watch owners.

For more details on the topic, check out Dediu's full post on Asymco.com.

Tag: Asymco

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
35 months ago
My Mac mini is five years old. I didn't plan to keep it so long but Apple have failed to release a suitable replacement.
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
35 months ago
My MacBook Pro from Late 2012 still runs like on its first day.

My first gen Apple Watch on the other hand was dead on arrival (so slow, Steve Jobs would have never allowed it)
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
35 months ago
My 1985 macintosh 512 still boots fine....
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
35 months ago
Sorry but I gotta call BS on this article. I know this is anecdotal but I have yet to see a Mac last less than 6 years, most are 8+.

Not only have mine all lasted well to the 10 year mark, but my parents Macs have lasted at least 8 years. as have my friends, the offices I used to support in my IT days, and my current work Macs (one is 11 years old).

iPads and iPhones are going to obviously have less life because mobile technology today is where computers were in the 90s, lots of advancements really quickly so of course those will have less of a lifespan.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
35 months ago
Is this why my 2008 iMac worked fine until it finally broke last year at the age of 9 years?
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
35 months ago

I've never understood why people need to upgrade their phone and everything every damn year. I've used every Apple product I've ever bought for at least four years before I replaced it, mostly longer. There was just no need to replace.

They don’t need. They want.
And if they have worked all year long with honesty and integrity, they have all the rights to spend their money how they see fit. Some people spend on cars, other on phones, others on clothing etc.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

New Photos Offer Better Look at iPhone 12 Color Options

Tuesday October 20, 2020 2:34 am PDT by
As we wait for the iPhone 12 review embargo to lift later today, more pictures are circulating of the devices in real-world lighting conditions, providing a better look at the different colors available. Leaker DuanRui has shared images on Twitter of the iPhone 12 in white, black, blue, green, and (PRODUCT)RED. The black and white colors are similar to the iPhone 11 colors, but the other...

iPhone 12 Pro in Graphite and iPhone 12 in Blue Shown Off in Unboxing Videos

Monday October 19, 2020 8:20 am PDT by
While the iPhone 12 Pro does not launch until Friday, we now have an early unboxing video of the device courtesy of Twitter account DuanRui, providing a closer look at the shiny new flat-edge design and sleek Graphite color option. Ben Geskin re-uploaded the unboxing video to YouTube, which we've embedded below: Geskin has also uploaded an unboxing video of the iPhone 12 in Blue: ...

Apple Releases iPadOS and iOS 14.1 With Multiple Bug Fixes Ahead of iPhone 12 Launch

Tuesday October 20, 2020 10:06 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 14.1, the first major updates to the iOS and iPadOS 14 operating system updates that were released in September. iOS and iPadOS 14.1 come a week after Apple released the golden master versions of the updates to developers. The iOS 14.1 update can be downloaded for free and it is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access...

Watch: iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro Unboxing Videos and First Impressions

Tuesday October 20, 2020 6:05 am PDT by
Apple's embargo has lifted for iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro reviews. In addition to our detailed review roundups for each device, we've rounded up over a dozen unboxing videos and first impressions below. iPhone 12 in Blue on left and iPhone 12 Pro in Pacific Blue on right via Engadget Key new features of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro include a flat-edge design, 5G support, a much faster A14 ...

Gold Version of iPhone 12 Pro Apparently Has a More Fingerprint Resistant Stainless Steel Frame

Tuesday October 20, 2020 11:56 am PDT by
iPhone 12 Pro reviews hit the web today, and one of the more interesting tidbits came from TechCrunch's Matthew Panzarino, who revealed that the Gold version of the device apparently has a more fingerprint resistant coating applied to the stainless steel frame. From his review:Most of the iPhone 12 Pro finishes still use a physical vapor deposition process for edge coating. But the new gold...

Photographer Austin Mann Tests the iPhone 12 Pro's Camera

Wednesday October 21, 2020 4:14 am PDT by
Travel photographer Austin Mann usually performs an in-depth review of new iPhone models to test their camera performance in real-world scenarios. To test Apple's new iPhone 12 Pro, Mann traveled to Glacier National Park, Montana. Mann focused on some of the biggest camera upgrades with the iPhone 12 Pro, including the upgraded Wide lens, Ultra Wide Night mode, and LiDAR autofocus, across a...

iPhone 12 Pro Max Has Smaller 3,687 mAh Battery According to Regulatory Filing

Tuesday October 20, 2020 8:48 pm PDT by
Apple's new iPhone 12 Pro Max is equipped with a 3,687 mAh battery, which is around 7% less capacity than the 3,969 mAh battery in the iPhone 11 Pro Max, according to a regulatory filing published by TENAA, the Chinese equivalent of the FCC. The regulatory filing, spotted by MacRumors, also lists the iPhone 12 Pro Max with 6GB of RAM as seen in benchmark results last week. Apple has filed ...

5G Drains iPhone 12 Battery 20% Faster Than 4G in Benchmark

Wednesday October 21, 2020 3:17 am PDT by
After the first reviews for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro emerged yesterday, a new report by Tom's Guide reveals the extent of battery life reductions when using 5G. The report outlines a test wherein the iPhone surfs the web continuously at 150 nits of screen brightness, launching a new site every 30 seconds until the battery drains. Interestingly, the test was run on an iPhone 12 and...

Hands-On With Apple's iPhone 12 and 12 Pro MagSafe Cases

Tuesday October 20, 2020 1:33 pm PDT by
Apple's iPhone 12 and 12 Pro are launching this Friday, and ahead of that release date, Apple is shipping out various accessories like the MagSafe charger and MagSafe cases. Yesterday we took a look at the MagSafe charger, and today our MagSafe case came in the mail, so we thought we'd take another look at the charger to see how it works with the case and just how strong the case magnets are. S ...

Reliable Leaker Suggests AirTags 'Coming Soon' in Two Different Sizes

Tuesday October 20, 2020 1:53 am PDT by
Apple's rumored AirTags Bluetooth tracking devices could launch imminently and will be available in two size options, based on new tweets from cryptic-but-reliable leaker L0vetodream. In typical enigmatic style, the leaker first tweeted this morning that a "big one" and a "small one" are "coming soon," but withheld what they were referring to. However that was followed an hour later with the ...