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Data shows user adoption rates for iOS 15 privacy features

Reading Time: 4 minutes

On Monday, September 20th, iOS 15 was released to the public. The release date was announced at the September 14 Apple Event, which saw the introduction of new iPhones, iPads, and Watches. Before Monday, a smaller group of users had been trialing the beta version of iOS 15. 

At Omnisend, we’ve been monitoring the updates closely to see what kind of changes iOS 15 would bring to our own customers.

Since the public release of iOS 15, we’ve seen initially strong adoption based on our customers’ own contacts, but the adoption rate then began to falter and plateau at the end of October.

This first strong push is reflected in the graph below, showing the adoption rate from September 15 until September 22:

privacy enabled apple mail opens

Before the Monday iOS 15 release, only 0.77% of contacts had started using Mail Privacy Protection. From the release date until Tuesday, September 21, adoption rates increased to 3.12%. A day later, on September 22, it doubled and is sitting at 6.41%.

For September 23-25, we see that the adoption rates going up steadily, until plateauing around 15% from the 25th:

On the 23rd, adoption rates sat at 8.39%, jumping to roughly 17% on the 25, then dropping all the way to 14.2% on the 27th.

However, this plateauing trend is most visible in the month after the 28th September. Below, you can see that adoption rates are bouncing around between roughly 20% and 30%. On October 25, it dropped from nearly 31% to 27.7%.

When looking at the total adoption rates from the 15th (five days before the iOS 15 release), we can see that there was a steady 1.3x daily increase until the 26th, when it began to slow down and continued to do so until October 25.

You can also notice that there’s an emerging pattern: a peak on a Saturday, then a two-day drop that picks up again on Mondays. Nonetheless, it is pretty clear that adoption rates are stalling.

As you are most likely aware, this update is set to impact email marketing with its Mail Privacy Protection feature that would allow Apple Mail users to turn off open rate tracking. Essentially, this new feature would show a 100% open rate for email marketers, whether the user has opened the email or not.

Besides this, Apple users will now also be able to hide their IP addresses and use temporary email addresses.

How we collected the data

To collect this data, our email experts monitored email opens and detected the user agent that Apple Mail is using (when privacy is enabled). This allows us to distinguish the older versions of Apple Mail from the updated Apple Mail with Mail Privacy Protection enabled.

As mentioned earlier in our iOS 15 FAQ, we are not able to determine whether the email open is “real” or “fake”—i.e., whether a real user opened this email or if it is the feature enabled by Mail Privacy Protection. This inability to distinguish real opens from fake opens is at the heart of why open rate data is becoming unreliable in the wake of iOS 15’s release.

In general, this analysis allows us to get an indication of user adoption of iOS 15, and more specifically indicates users’ opting-in for Mail Privacy Protection.

Other signs of adoption or interest

We speculated earlier that we can expect adoption rates similar to the switch to iOS 14.5—which eventually saw about 96% of Apple users making the switch.

The chart below shows that our customers’ contact adoption data was initially in line with earlier adoptions for iOS releases. iOS 14.4 saw a 9% adoption within the first week, 39% in the second week, and 61% in the third week, leading up to 73% in the sixth week:

However, within a month since the release we’ve seen a plateauing unlike previous iOS update adoption rates. We will continue to monitor this to see how similar or dissimilar it is from previous releases.

Other marketing data seems to be in alignment with this general adoption.

On Google Ads, for example, keywords related to “iOS 15” and “email marketing” have seen significant increases in terms of clicks and impressions:

clicks and impressions for IOS 15 keywords
Clicks (blue) and impressions (red) for iOS 15 keywords from September 1-22.

In fact, some ad keywords have seen jumps of 112% when compared to the previous week.

On Google Trends, the search term “ios 15” saw a spike of interest around the time of the release and the day after, which has since subsided:

google trends for ios 15
Google Trends for “ios 15” in the United States from September 16-21

All of these signals point to the likelihood that iOS 15 adoption rates are going to increase rapidly over the next few weeks, tapering off into the next few months. 

We will continue to update this blog post with new user data from Omnisend, so be sure to stay tuned for the latest iOS 15 adoption rate statistics.

Bernard Meyer
Article by
Bernard Meyer

Bernard is the Director of Content at Omnisend, with a passion for good research, helping ecommerce businesses with their marketing automation needs, and beating absolutely everyone in Mario Kart 64.


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