A stunning 2/3 of Apple devices ever sold remain in use

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Apple Customer Satisfaction
Customers keep using Mac, iPad, iPhone, and Apple Watch
Photo: Cult of Mac

Apple’s devices don’t end up in the rubbish bin very often. In fact, an analyst determined that about 64 percent of iPhones, iPads, Macs and Apple Watches ever sold remain in active use.

This might be the most accurate way of measuring just how satisfied people are with Apple’s products. Far better than customer surveys!

Apple CEO Tim Cook recently revealed that there are 1.3 billion Apple devices being used at least once a month. That’s up from 1 billion active devices at the beginning of 2016.

These figures got Horace Dediu from Asymco thinking. And calculating. He looked over Apple‘s quarterly financial statements for those two years and found that the company shipped 586.7 million devices, while the total number of active ones went up by 300 million.

He continued to dig up more Apple device numbers, and used a logistic function to put them together into a graph for the past 10 years that shows the retention rate for iOS, macOS and watchOS products.

Apple Customer Satisfaction
Apple’s active device rate remains very high.

Dediu admits that his graph isn’t perfect, but says “this is the best guess using a theory that has worked in similar circumstances.”

It’s about Apple customer satisfaction

Dediu went through this not to determine how many iPhones were still in use in 2014, but to gauge Apple customer satisfaction. He argues that this is necessary because the customer satisfaction surveys performed by companies are inherently inaccurate. The people who take them “will say things which they judge the listener will want to hear.”

Apple regularly cites very high numbers from such customer surveys. For example, in a recent call with investors, CFO Luca Maestri said, “The latest data from 451 Research indicates U.S. customer satisfaction ratings of 96 percent or higher across iPhone models. In fact, combining iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X, consumers reported an amazing 99 percent satisfaction rating.”

Those extremely high numbers help support Dediu’s point.

That’s where Dediu’s graph comes in. It shows that people really are using Apple’s devices for long periods of time. This means they must be satisfied with them. “A liked product will be used and a well-liked product will be used more,” he said.

He points out that accurately determining customer satisfaction is very hard, but critical for judging a company’s long-term prospects. As the analyst put it, “A high satisfaction leads to repeat purchases and referrals, growing the business; while a low satisfaction leads to ending relationships and a repulsion of potential new customers. These numbers determine everything about the future.”

If so, then Apple’s future looks bright.