Apple rethinks legacy support with iOS 9 strategy; may extend iPhone lifecycle in emerging markets

While Android M is expected to show up at Google I/O later this week, there has been chatter around the iOS 9 to be unveiled at the WWDC next month.

In the last couple of years, Apple and Google have turned into copy cats. They've been trying to retain the best from each others' mobile operating systems. While Android M is expected to show up at Google I/O later this week, there has been chatter around the iOS 9 to be unveiled at the WWDC next month.

A lot has already been said and written about what to expect from the iOS 9 such as new security features, home automation app and more. But what has been grabbing most eyeballs is the support for older devices like iPhone 4s and iPad mini. Over the years, it is quite clear that Apple wants its users to quickly move on to the latest iPhone and is known to drop support for devices that are a couple of years old.

However, with iOS 9, all this is about to change. Looks like, Apple has penned down a new strategy as the company expects to widen the time/life span of support for its older devices. Needless to say, this will help the company maintain a foothold in emerging markets where people don't really replace a high-end device every time its new variant arrives.

While all this could be a part of Apple's wider strategy, one of the main reasons for lack of support has been the inability of newer versions to efficiently run on older iPhones. It should be noted that the iPhone 4 is said to perform extremely slow after upgrading from iOS 6 to iOS 7. Moreover, the screen size and processor doesn't work well with iOS 8. If you consider emerging countries like India, it is currently one of Apple's best-selling devices here. In the past, Apple also considered bringing back the iPhone 4 to India to boost sales which had fallen despite the launch of its two heavyweight iPhones – 5s and 5c.

Apple has reportedly now worked a way around it. In its bid to support 2011 devices, it plans to restructure the software engineering process in such a way that it efficiently supports older hardware using iOS 9. So, instead of directly building the main iOS 9 for older iPhones and iPads and then slowly taking off all the features that don't perform well, the company is working on a core iOS 9 version that works well with A5 devices. So, one of the important factors of the iOS 9 will be to build a core version that performs well with older devices that are unable to function properly with iOS 8.

Basically,  older iPhones, after going through multiple price cuts, are within the reach of audiences in the emerging markets. If these phones don't perform well, users with bad experiences will never return to the Apple ecosystem, giving its arch-rival Google (who already dominates the low to mid-range market with Android) an edge over its iOS devices. Moreover, we can go as far to also say that Android's increasing dominance in the low-end emerging market could be another reason why Apple has reworked its strategy. By increasing the life cycle of its older devices, the company can reach out to these users in the emerging markets, which will further help increase its sales figures.