Apple’s installed base will soon pass 1.5 billion devices

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Classic MacBook, iPad and iPhone
Even older MacBooks, iPads and iPhones boost Apple’s revenue.
Photo: Apple

The total number of all Apple computers in active use is growing strongly, and is about to pass the 1.5 billion mark. This includes Macs, iPhones, and iPads.

That said, most of the total are iPhones. An industry analyst predicts there will be a billion of these in active use by early next year.

These figures come from Horace Dediu from Asymco.

Look at the red line on his chart to see growth in all Apple devices, and the purple line shows the increase in iPhone .

Installed base vs. sales

While the number of iPhones sold each quarter gets a lot off attention, the total number of them in use is at least as important. The same goes for iPads and Mac. Older devices still contribute to Apple’s bottom line because their users subscribe to Apple services and buy software.

That’s why Apple’s quarterly revenue (on Dediu‘s chart in yellow) is growing so quickly, even if iPhone sales have slowed in recent quarters.

Apple executives kept bringing this topic up during the conference call with investors earlier this week. “Our active installed base of iPhone reached a new all time high and was up year-over-year in each of our top 20 markets,” said CEO Tim Cook. And CFO Luca Maestri said “The active installed base of Macs again reached a new all time high,” and “the iPad active installed base also reached a new all time high.”

Why the iPhone installed base falls and why it rises

During the earnings call, Cook discussed what can reduce the size of Apple’s installed base, as well as the factors that keep it growing instead.

“Installed base is a function of upgrades and the time between those,” he pointed out. This is an oblique reference to the increasing time Apple’s customers are holding onto their handsets, slowing quarterly sales.

Cook went on to say that the installed base is also “a function of the number of switchers coming into the to the iOS, macOS and so forth. It’s a function of the robustness of the secondary market, which we think overwhelmingly hits an incremental customer.” Cook is referring to people buying used iPhones.

“And it’s a function still in the emerging markets and somewhat developed markets to a lesser degree of people that are buying their first smartphone,” Cook noted. “There are still quite a few people in the world in that category.”