A Mobile Hurdle in the Enterprise: A Case Study

by January 14, 2018

Recently our sales team was engaged with a large enterprise customer looking at our mobile solution. The customer came back with some questions about the versions of iOS and Android our Mobile App Services software supports. Their purchasing group was requiring support of iOS 7 and Android 4.0.2.

On the surface this would seem a reasonable request.

The initial release of iOS 7, for example, was September 18, 2013. The last minor version release was June 30, 2014. So roughly two to three years ago. In the enterprise space that would typically indicate a young software solution that has many years of life.

However, it does not.

The truth is iOS 7 is all but obsolete and has almost no market share worldwide. It has been supplanted by iOS 8 and iOS 9 in the last two years which now have 97% of the market between them. This means iOS 7 has, at most, 3% market share worldwide. The latest graph below illustrates this:

percent devices using iOS 9

On top of this, iOS 10 is due out in September. Following the typical adoption of new iOS versions the market shares will quickly follow the same trends it does every year. Within two months of release this chart will look similar except iOS 10 will have the vast majority market share and iOS 9 will be in the roughly 15-25% range. iOS 8 will fall off the cliff of relevance almost immediately into that very small catch-all category of ‘Earlier’.

Additionally, an iOS version as old as iOS 7 is nowhere near as secure as the most recent versions. There have been substantial security updates in these more recent two versions. Any company not keeping up is leaving themselves dangerously exposed in this respect. And mobile security is the core value we offer with our Mobile App Services product.

Two years or so. This is how fast it changes in the mobile world.

The iOS industry best practice is to support only the most recent version of iOS and its immediate predecessor. Only two major versions. Anything beyond that is essentially ‘dead’ software and has no business value.

This illustrates an important, but all too common, misconception when it comes to mobile software. Many major companies of all types are unaware of the speed with which mobile software can become obsolete. They fall behind on supporting their existing mobile software or their requirements for purchasing new solutions become outdated within a year or two. They are used to the old paradigm of software life cycles of many years, sometimes a decade or two. This is particularly true in the enterprise space.

This can be very dangerous when security is high on their list of priorities. Old mobile software can compromise this security very quickly. Additionally, supporting iOS versions this old can eat up a lot of time and money for virtually no reason. Development costs, testing costs, support costs. Costs that cannot be supported by any reasonable business case.

It is more cost effective for a company to require mobile devices stay updated every year, or even buy new devices to keep up to the most recent iOS versions.

This is a big challenge companies selling mobile software face today with customers. They are slow to understand this new paradigm and adopt their practices to follow suit. Some will dig in and demand the old versions be supported like they have in the past with other software.

Sadly, they are only exposing themselves to large security risks and even bigger costs. They are only hurting themselves.