iPhone 11 Adoption Off to a Good Start, but Can It Dethrone the XR?

Last year, despite lagging adoption for the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR two weeks following their initial release, Black Friday began to see the XR’s true colors. This year has not been different: almost three months after the release of the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, and 11 Pro Max, the iPhone 11, the XR’s supposed successor, is beginning its ascent.

Let’s review a few of the exciting features Apple has implemented.

The tech giant broke ground with new camera capabilities including a lens that captures images at an ultra-wide angle and four times more scene. The camera’s Deep Fusion feature uses machine learning to optimize texture, details, and noise reduction in an image, an advance in computational photography. Finally, Night Mode takes photos in low light, processes the shot, then returns a more discernible image. Regardless of how you feel about the camera’s appearance, the new system is a significant step forward for mobile image capture. Of course, the newest iPhones are also built with an advanced chipset and longer reported battery life.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dig into how quickly consumers are taking to these new devices.

Initial Adoption Reduced by Market Saturation

Despite some notable exceptions, device adoption two weeks following the release of the newest generation of iPhones has been steadily decreasing. When looking at devices released at the same time each year since 2014, we find that the market share new iPhones claim shortly after release has gone from approximately 4% in 2014 to 2.5% in 2019.

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Of course, there are some exceptions to our rule. 2015’s 6S and 6S Plus saw a dip in adoption that the market hadn’t witnessed again until recently. The 6S’s did not bring drastic hardware upgrades to the previous generation of iPhone 6’s, so initial adoption was somewhat lackluster that year. Apple released the cost-optimized iPhone SE the following year, probably to absorb the 6S’s lagging adoption. The iPhone 7 also proved to be a hugely popular device because it advanced in functionality (improvements in performance, battery life, and camera technology) despite noted similarities to its ancestors in design. The Apple fanatics who weren't inspired by the 6S decided that the 7 was definitely for them.

Reasons for this overall decline in two-week adoption is likely due to saturation in the device market: the more device options there are, the greater the competition for a slice of the pie. Additionally, lagging product innovation plays a part: my slice tastes fine; why should I spend more for a marginally better-tasting one? Nevertheless, the market is engaged at a healthy level - iPhones are not going away, but their initial buzz is.

The XR Shows Off Its Prowess

While adoption in the initial two weeks of a device’s release may be slowing, inevitably consumers find a reason to upgrade. When we last checked in, we saw the XR begin to find its footing and show strong indicators of a potential market takeover. The device has successfully made inroads and is now a true force, having claimed a total of 13.54% of the iPhone market. 

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In close pursuit is the market’s former leader: the iPhone 7, followed by the 8. It’s clear that Apple’s strategy to build a more affordable alternative in the XR has made an impact. While there will always be hardcore Apple fans who are driven to buy the latest and greatest, in 2018 and 2019 the majority of smartphone shoppers were clearly interested in a reasonably priced upgrade with many of the iPhone’s newest core features. This lesson may be playing out with the iPhone 11 as well. With a starting price of $699, the 11 is meant to replace the XR as an affordable, albeit minor upgrade. However, the new camera, which improves picture and video quality over the XR and features night mode, is probably the only compelling addition, so it remains to be seen whether the 11 will claim as much territory as the XR. 

Marketers still face a pressing question: How many users have upgraded to iOS 13 and how should I adapt my app marketing strategy to account for this?

76.4% of iPhone Users Have Upgraded to iOS 13

App users have taken to the new iOS at similar, but slightly higher rates than they have historically. 76.5% of iPhones and iPads this past weekend were on iOS 13, while 80.6% were on iOS 12 at this time last year, and 75.3% were on iOS 11 at this time two years ago.

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This data indicates a slight increase in demand for new mobile software that actually works. The release of iOS 11 was punctuated by reports of poor performance including devices repeatedly crashing if they had certain apps with local notifications installed, so Apple made sure iOS 12 was up to par before releasing it. The same cannot be said of iOS 13, whose release was accompanied by a litany of bugs. Either Apple releases software with real innovative platform updates and has to deal with the fallout, or they make stability improvements and everything runs smoothly. Either way, the vast majority of users update to the new OS eventually.

What This Means for Marketers

The release of iOS 13 and the iPhone 11 has certainly changed the mobile device landscape, pulling the world of mobile photography into the future and forcing mobile marketers to adapt to evolving technology. Marketers should be focused on using these new features to their advantage, making sure that they’re making users aware of location permissions' value, using the right CSS media queries for in-app and inbox messages, and keeping an eye out for dark mode support in the In-App Builder. You’ll be an iOS 13 expert before you know it.

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