Online ad network Chitika Insights has some stunning new data about the fragmentation of OS X. Its latest report on Mac OS X version distribution contains some notable findings.
OS X Lion/10.7 (28.0 percent) and Snow Leopard/10.6 (35.1 percent) have greater shares of Mac OS X web traffic than Mountain Lion/10.8 (26.8 percent)
Mountain Lion/10.8 has increased by 16 percent over the past 7 months to 26.8 percent, but that's still less than 10.6 and 10.7.
With OS X 10.9 expected to be released later this year, the data points to developers having to deal with a more widely distributed Mac OS environment for the foreseeable future. The full report is available on the Chitika Insights website.
The problem is that after 10.9 is released, developers will need to code their applications to work with the "big four" desktop versions of OS X:
10.9 (name TBD)
10.8 (Mountain Lion)
10.6 (Snow Leopard)
While not as daunting as trying to develop an app for all the flavors of Android hardware on the market, Apple can't afford to lose any developers by making it more difficult to code for the OS X platform.
Apple drops support for older hardware with each OS release, which is part of the reason why many users don't upgrade to the latest version of OS X. (The system requirements for OS X Mountain Lion limit it to Macs with 64-bit GPUs, for example.) But it's unlikely that Apple's going to stop or slow its planned obsolescence cycle.
In addition to adding a lot of new "must-have" features, Apple should consider giving away upgrades to OS X 10.9 for free in order to entice more users to upgrade.