iOS 14 could become Apple's Windows XP

And that might not be a bad thing.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

So, it turns out that come the release of iOS 15 (and iPadOS 15) later this year, users will get a choice.

Quite an important choice.

iPhone users can choose to hit the update button and go down the iOS 15 route, or play it safe and stick with iOS 14.

Given that Apple has seen strong, you could say passionate, adoption figures for new releases of iOS over the years, I expect that a good bulk of iDevice users will make the leap to iOS 15.

People are drawn to new iOS and iPadOS releases. There's a feeling of getting a whole bunch of new features for free.

Do you remember paying for OS updates? I remember a time when iPod touch users had to pay for new iOS releases.

Wild, eh?

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But, for some, the draw of staying with the familiar will no doubt override the desire to check out what the latest and greatest has to offer. On top of that, folks running older hardware -- and remember, iOS 15 will support devices going back to 2015, which is quite old when it comes to a smartphone -- might decide that it's safer to stick with their existing operating system than to risk an upgrade.

Consider also that the bulk of the claims of poor performance from a new iOS release comes from people running older hardware. Putting aside all those concerns about planned obsolescence and such, having a device that started out running iOS 9 (do you even remember what was in iOS 9?) and still being capable of running iOS 15 is quite not only impressive but also quite a workload on the hardware.

On top of that, the developers at Apple have to put in a fair bit of work to decide what features will and won't run in older hardware and work to balance performance against functionality.

But now, come iOS 15, there's a fork in the road.

Users get a choice.

And this is a good thing.

Down one road lies new features, the other consistency.

By sticking with iOS 14, iPhone users will continue to get security updates, which keeps their devices safe, and Apple gets to keep those users in the ecosystem.

They can continue to buy content and apps and pay for services such as iCloud.

Yes, this isn't altruism. There's a real financial benefit in Apple keeping as many of the older devices in the ecosystem as possible.

Apple clearly wants to keep older hardware active in the ecosystem for as long as possible. It makes sense given how much money Apple pulls in through services.

The idea that Apple is doing something with iOS that looks a lot like creating a long-term support version marks quite a change for a company that in the past was forcing users through an aggressive upgrade cycle.

Apple could be creating its own Windows XP, a platform that older devices can run and remain relevant… and profitable for Apple.

But the question is, for how long?

My guess is, for as long as it's profitable. That could be three years. It could be five.

Those iPhone 6s handsets could have a lifespan like no one expected when they were released. That's quite a testament to the initial design and subsequently the quality and reliability of this smartphone.

No one who bought an iPhone 6s can say they didn't get their money's worth.

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