2.5 percent

Just remember that figure.

Apple recently announced Apple Intelligence, and it looks pretty sweet. It does the stuff you actually want – seamless workflow integration pretty much anywhere, with on device secure generation and optional access to the great LLM in the sky.

It’s the dream we hoped Intel or some other Windows hardware maker would bring to life. Microsoft’s Copilot? Too limited unless you shell out, and/or confined to their apps. nVidia’s Chat with RTX? A hot mess. LM Studio? Great, but no workflow love (unless you enjoy workflow that involves a lot of copy/paste).

Apple’s pitch is clear: “Buy our shiny new hardware, use whatever software floats your boat.” Meanwhile, other companies are like, “Here, have some AI, but only if you play in just our backyard.”

However! Where things get spicy is on the iPhone front. Other brands have dabbled in AI, but Apple’s stepping up with a Siri that might finally stop inspiring rage-quits. What’s not to like?

Well, the fine print, obviously: Apple Intelligence only works on the iPhone 15 Pro or Pro Max. As a proud and recent owner of the Peasant Edition™ iPhone 15, this news hit me right in the wallet. My iPhone has a neural processing unit, so why the ball-kick?

First up, you people at the back shouting, “Apple did this to sell phones!” Well, of course they did. And I’d expect the Peasant Edition™ of the iPhone 16, which we’ll see circa September, will probably support Apple Intelligence. It’s all the other people who can get fucked. Apple would have known this, so … why did they do it?

My guess: RAM. Those hungry LLMs need as much as you can give to function properly, which the Pro/Max models and M1 (and better) Macs have (they all have at least 8GB of RAM). If you try running a smaller parameter model, you get something that sounds like a fifth grader on crack cocaine.

Fear not, fellow peasants! In a few years, 8GB RAM (or more) will be the norm. Just like the iPod nano once made flash memory cheap, Apple’s pushing for a future where 8GB is standard. While Apple are only competing with themselves here, what I think they’re doing is setting up a world where cool software and services need the baseline 8GB (or more) of RAM. It’ll take a few years, and then, like the 3.5mm audio jack, no one will remember life in the Before Times.

Okay, great! So, just how many people can actually use Apple Intelligence on their phones when it launches? Trying to find numbers on this isn’t amazingly easy, so brace yourself for some hand-wavium.

  1. According to Avada, there are about 1.46B active iPhone users worldwide.
  2. While we don’t have complete information for iPhone 15 sales, they shipped about 232 million phones in 2023 (according to Statista). Let’s assume they’ll ship about that many for 2024.
  3. The iPhone 15 Pro is the sales leader for this generation (according to Apple Insider), accounting for 22% & 23% of share (let’s call it 45%).
  4. We can extrapolate that of the 232,000,000 shipped phones for the 15’s generation (until replaced by the 16, circa September), 104,400,000 (104M) units are Apple Intelligence capable.
  5. If there are 1.46B iPhones, that represents 104,400,000 ➗ 1,460,000,000 == 7.15% of users can use Apple Intelligence.
  6. HOLD THE PHONE (hah): This service is (at launch) only for US English. The rest of us speaking the King’s or some other variant of English can eat a bowl of dicks. It’s quite hard to work out how many US English users there are, so I cheated and asked ChatGPT. TL;DR: about 36% of iPhone users are likely to use US English, meaning ~2.5% of Apple iPhone users will be able to use Apple Intelligence when it launches:
To determine the percentage of iPhone customers who use US English, we need to look at some relevant data points, such as regional sales distribution and language preferences. While specific numbers on language preferences are not always publicly available, we can make an educated estimate based on available data.

Regional Sales Distribution: According to various reports, Apple's largest markets are the Americas, Europe, and Greater China. The Americas, including the United States, are typically the largest segment.

For example, in a typical financial report, the Americas can account for around 40-45% of Apple's total revenue. The majority of this would be from the United States.
English Usage: In the United States, the primary language is English. Additionally, other English-speaking countries such as Canada, the UK, and Australia also contribute to iPhone sales, but to a lesser extent compared to the US.

Estimating US English Users:

Let's assume the Americas account for 45% of iPhone sales.
A significant portion of this 45% will be from the United States. For simplicity, let's estimate 80% of the Americas' sales come from the US.
Therefore, US sales might represent about 36% (45% * 80%) of total iPhone sales.
Given this estimate, approximately 36% of iPhone customers might be using US English as their primary language setting.

Around 36% of iPhone customers are likely to use US English, based on the regional sales distribution and the predominance of English in the United States. This is a rough estimate, but it gives a reasonable approximation based on available data.

You’re probably feeling shorted by this, but you’re in it with the rest of us Peasant Edition™ phone owners. What’s surprising to me is more people aren’t talking about this, as it’s the soft launch of all soft launches.

For sure, this is Apple’s way of testing the waters with a select group. Want in? Get ready to splurge on a Pro model (brace: ~NZD$2.5k). For the rest of us, it’s a waiting game until this tech costs less than a kidney on the black market.

(That 2.5% number is close, but it’s just an estimate based on publicly released information. Exact figures can be … challenging to verify without Apple’s specific data).

20240622 Edit: Gizmodo confirm the issue is, in fact, RAM.

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