As big as the lines outside Apple stores were for the launch of the company’s two new iPhones were last week, the virtual lines to download iOS 7 may have been even more impressive.
After iOS 7 became available to download last Wednesday, Internet traffic from Apple.com tripled to more than 13% for the average customers of Sunnyvale-based Blue Coat Systems. The company makes hardware and software that helps companies monitor and optimize their Web traffic.
Though streaming media services such as Netflix and YouTube can consume large amounts of bandwidth, the rush to download a single, fairly large file was virtually unprecedented, according to Blue Coat director Jeff Brainard.
In a blog post Thursday on the Blue Coat website, Brainard wrote that customers who usually get about 4% of their traffic going to Apple.com experienced a spike of more than three times that, to 13%.
For one customer, traffic to Apple.com spiked to 32% of Web traffic.
“During that period, iOS 7 downloads accounted for the second largest volume of traffic behind only YouTube videos,” Brainard wrote.
That means that in offices and schools across the country, IT managers were struggling to keep their systems working as employees as attempted to download the iOS 7 to their Apple devices.
And that also resulted in a busy day for the folks at Blue Coat, who scrambled to help their customers manage the surge of traffic and figure out ways to reduce its effect.
Of course, anyone who tried to download the new version of Apple’s mobile operating system when it became available on Wednesday knew there was a stampede to get it. Users experienced error messages or long download times.
On Monday, Apple confirmed that iOS 7 had been downloaded onto 200 million iOS devices. And other third parties reported that the adoption had pushed past 50% of all iOS devices, a far faster clip than previous updates.
Brainard said IT managers have grown accustomed to seeing big spikes in Web traffic around major events such as the World Cup or the death of a major celebrity. But it’s one thing for people to be posting lots of short tweets or Facebook posts and another thing for millions of people to suddenly try to download a large file from a single source, he said.
“There was a ridiculous amount of popularity for this update,” Brainard said in an interview. “I think in the case of a big file update that’s had this kind of impact, no, I have not seen this in the four years I’ve been here."