A billion active devices

Once again, the pundits are telling us that Apple is doomed. This time it is because its growth in profits slowed.

Despite still making a record quarterly profit of $18.4 billion – that’s approaching half of its total profit for the whole of 2014, and sufficient to buy the gold reserves of the UK twice over (end 2014 value) – because its growth has slowed, the doom-mongers are waging words again.

Fewer noticed Tim Cook’s astonishing revelation, when he said that “our installed base recently crossed a major milestone of one billion active devices.”

Yes, according to Apple’s figures, from Apple ID and App Store data, there are now more than 1,000,000,000 active (Internet-connected) OS X, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS devices. That is sufficient for one device for every adult and child in the whole of the USA, EU, and Brazil combined.

To put it into better context, the IPv4 Internet address space (which most of us still use) is limited to around 4 billion addresses. This is because it uses 32-bit addresses, giving a gross total of 2^32 = 4.29 billion, but nearly 0.3 billion of those are reserved for private networks and multicast addresses.

Figures for the number of users who now have new-style IPv6 addresses are hard to come by. At the end of December 2015, 10% of users reaching Google were using IPv6, so overall, including both IPv4 and IPv6, we are probably looking at up to 4.4 billion active IP devices worldwide. Around a quarter of those are Apple products.

Any normal company which attains such strong global market penetration has dominated the market – not just in the US and Europe, but from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. And few of Apple’s competitors can even have such as clear view of their active installed user base across the world.

No doubt the doom-mongers will think about this, and come back with the comment that, with only one Apple device for every seven people in the world, Apple is still marginal. And for that to have taken as long as eight and a half years from the first iPhone shipping is just so slow.