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Underground App Store Courts the Jailbroken 295

Posted by kdawson
from the bring-down-the-towers dept.
PainMeds writes "Apple's stepped-up and controversial rejections are helping to foster competition in the app store marketplace. According to an article by Wired, developers aren't taking AppStore rejection lying down, but are turning to the hacking community's repository system for the iPhone to launch an app store of their own. The 4-month-old Cydia store is yielding notably higher sales for a few application developers than Apple's AppStore, and is reportedly running on over 4 million Apple iPhone devices, with perhaps 350,000 connected at any one time. In this store, developers are distributing applications they've written that push the limits of Apple's normal AppStore policies, with software to add file downloads to Safari, trick applications into thinking they're on Wi-Fi (for VoIP), and enhance other types functionality. You'll also find the popular Google Voice application, which was recently rejected by Apple. Third party application development has been around since 2007, when the iPhone was originally introduced, and became so popular that O'Reilly Media published a book geared toward writing applications before an SDK was available. The Cydia store acts as both a free package repository and commercial storefront to third-party developers."
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Underground App Store Courts the Jailbroken

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  • Bye Bye Monopoly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GreenTech11 (1471589) on Friday August 07, 2009 @10:45AM (#28985963)
    And there goes Apple's monopoly. I can't say this is a bad thing, it gives users another option, without severely damaging Apple.
  • by houstonbofh (602064) on Friday August 07, 2009 @10:45AM (#28985977)
    Normally Apple is on a totally different playing field from any competition... Not here, and it will be interesting to see how they deal with this. :) I am betting lawyers and politicians.
  • The Obvious Truth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geegel (1587009) on Friday August 07, 2009 @10:46AM (#28985989)
    Those that hack or pirate always have it better. No DRM, no restrictions on what software you can install, no need for physical media and the list goes on. Being a nice customer simply doesn't pay anymore these days.
  • It was inevitable (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Friday August 07, 2009 @10:48AM (#28986015)
    Software programmers are free thinkers. They don't like being told what to do by a monolithic entity trying to hold all the cards and write all the game's rules.
  • by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Friday August 07, 2009 @10:54AM (#28986089) Journal

    The problem is that you need jailbroken iphone, which wont be so easy for average joe. There wont be final resolution before Apple also learns that restricting so much is a bad decision.

  • Isn't it ironic... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 2obvious4u (871996) on Friday August 07, 2009 @10:59AM (#28986165)
    That the company trumpeting how 1984 wouldn't be like 1984 was the company to most make it like 1984?
  • by causality (777677) on Friday August 07, 2009 @10:59AM (#28986167)

    Those that hack or pirate always have it better. No DRM, no restrictions on what software you can install, no need for physical media and the list goes on. Being a nice customer simply doesn't pay anymore these days.

    That should be obvious, yes. Still I see people who defend DRM and I don't understand it. If it were just the occasional one or two I would suspect that perhaps they are astroturfing. It's more than a few so while I have to admit it has some non-zero probability, I really don't think astroturfing is a satisfying explanation. I think plenty of people really feel this way. I apologize in advance for caps, but to them, YOU ARE DEFENDING SOMETHING THAT IS NOT AND COULD NEVER BE IN YOUR INTERESTS, WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT FOR ANY REASON?! If nothing else, understanding this behavior would be an interesting psychological study.

  • Re:Pros and Cons (Score:5, Insightful)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday August 07, 2009 @11:02AM (#28986195) Journal

    Although you can't really blame Apple for denying Google Voice and similar apps

    You can't really blame Comcast for denying access to hulu.com or tnt.com or scifi.com.....

    Just something to think about - the motives for these denials are clear.

  • by solcott (1002711) on Friday August 07, 2009 @11:04AM (#28986227)

    The problem is that you need jailbroken iphone, which wont be so easy for average joe. There wont be final resolution before Apple also learns that restricting so much is a bad decision.

    Out of curiosity, have you even jailbroken an iPhone?

    I'm going to say that for an average Joe, jailbreaking an iPhone is *not* a problem assuming said average Joe both knows how to read and owns a computer with internet access.

    Maybe the "below-average" Joes who have an iPhone, but either do not know how to read or do not have a computer with internet access would have a problem figuring out how to jailbreak, but the truly average ones, they won't have any trouble at all.

  • by oahazmatt (868057) on Friday August 07, 2009 @11:05AM (#28986229) Journal
    I'm somewhat inclined to believe the only reason Apple are so hell-bent on denying you service with any carrier of your choosing is due to their exclusive (and soon-up-for-renewal) contract with AT&T. Apple understands that a sold iPhone is a sold iPhone, but AT&T understands that an iPhone on T-Mobile is approximately $90 a month in lost revenue. I would not at all be surprised if AT&T has a clause in the agreement that states Apple must be pro-active in protecting the device from being used on other networks for the duration of the contract.

    I'm also somewhat inclined to believe that should the AT&T exclusive deal come to an end, and the iPhone can be taken to a compatible network of the customer's choosing, the use jailbreaking would decline. I hear far more tales of people who wish to take their iPhones to another carrier rather than download applications that haven't been approved.
  • by rotide (1015173) on Friday August 07, 2009 @11:18AM (#28986355)
    And the absolutely crazy insane part of this is that you listed two offenses (directly and indirectly). Copyright infringement and speeding (moving violation).

    One of those two puts peoples lives in danger and the other _potentially_ can put a _fraction_ of a businesses profits in danger.

    Which one of the two has an _immensely_ steeper fine?

    Absolute absurdity.

  • by causality (777677) on Friday August 07, 2009 @11:21AM (#28986383)

    To date, I have never been able to get out of a speeding ticket by telling the magistrate that the speed limit should be 65 instead of 55 on that highway.

    A highway I use sometimes had the speed limit raised from 55 to 65 recently. I should emphasize that there has been no new construction on that road. Now, before the limit was raised, if I were ticketed for doing 65 while it was 55 I would have been told that this was for my safety. Now, if the state had any sense of honor (haha) they would refund the fines paid by anyone who was ticketed for going 10 mph or less over the speed limit because they are effectively admitting that they had it wrong.

    The copyright laws have become increasingly punitive. Because of that, if we ever see any reform for copyright it makes me wonder if those who were prosecuted under what are later acknowledged to be bad laws should be compensated in some way. I admit that whether they realistically will be is a separate question from whether they should be.

  • by EvilIdler (21087) on Friday August 07, 2009 @11:22AM (#28986387)

    Average Joe won't have trouble doing the jailbreaking thing. They do protest about doing anything that *sounds* complicated. Some people don't *want* to learn anything about computers and electronic devices.

    So Apple's own AppStore is safe because most people are lazy idiots :)

  • by gclef (96311) on Friday August 07, 2009 @11:28AM (#28986479)

    One big one that I find frustrating on the Touch is the inability to use it as an USB storage device. I brought the Touch with me on a recent trip to Europe, and found (much to my frustration) that I could not copy pictures from my camera over to the Touch without installing iTunes on every random computer I used. I wanted to just connect both the camera and the Touch to my friend's laptop & drag the pictures across...apparently Apple doesn't want me to do that, which I think is stupid.

    Also, on a corporate level, I'd love to be able to have a separate App store that just our company's iPhones/Touches used. That would allow us to put out custom apps for just us, which would make the iPhone & Touch hugely popular at the office. But we can't. Pity.

  • Wrong mod. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ElSupreme (1217088) on Friday August 07, 2009 @11:30AM (#28986501)
    Whoops accidently modded the wrong thing.
  • by Tyr_7BE (461429) on Friday August 07, 2009 @11:31AM (#28986513)

    Most people won't do it though. Sure your average college kid or whatever has no problem downloading an app to jailbreak the phone, but joe average on the street doesn't tend to flock towards anything involving firmware modification. They buy a phone, they use the phone, and that's all they do.

  • by DeathMagnetic (1365763) on Friday August 07, 2009 @11:40AM (#28986613)
    Huh? What does moving to another cellular carrier have to do with jailbreaking? I think you're confusing two separate issues here. Yes, you need to jailbreak before doing a carrier unlock, but that's really irrelevant to the discussion at hand. Making the iPhone available on multiple networks, in and of itself, will have little effect on jailbreaking and no effect whatsoever on the use of the Cydia store.
  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Friday August 07, 2009 @11:40AM (#28986623) Homepage Journal

    "but if you had the position in Apple to make that decision"

    I see your point. I have stockholders to answer to, as well as being responsible for honoring contractual commitments.

    Even so, I think the RIGHT thing to do, is to announce that Apple will not support jailbroken and/or unlocked telephones. It's cool to only support the thing as it was sold, with proper updates and company approved applications. That is perfectly cool. Using the phone in a manner not approved by Apple voids any and all warranties is cool. (except the battery issue - I don't think Apple can legally drop any liability related to a phone that burns up due to the battery)

    What is NOT COOL, is attempting to block people from jailbreaking and/or unlocking their phone. Nor is it cool to obstruct this competing app store.

    Obligatory automotive analogy: Ford may very well tell you that modifying your car for stock racing voids all warranties, but they can't prohibit you from making said modification, nor can they prohibit you from racing our stock car.

  • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999&gmail,com> on Friday August 07, 2009 @11:41AM (#28986641)

    Apple did open their platform to clones. It very nearly killed them completely. Apple are a hardware company.

    Apple is making an *enormous* amount of money with their hardware and software in its current configuration, and I believe is very high up the charts on total number of machines shipped. They are very clearly not dying. In fact, their marketshare in terms of computers and phones, and portable music players is going up, year on year.

    A hackable iPod/iPhone is a niche market. The slashdot audience really isn't the primary target audience. If you want a hackable smartphone, there's Android. If you just want a flashy smartphone with the internet, street cred, a camera, games, and tons of apps of varying usefulness (from things that make your phone into a flashlight and make silly noises, right up to high quality games, task manager apps and sat nav) then the iPhone is for you.

    Not that I'm saying the Android lacks street cred, but the iPhone really made smartphones cool. Blackberrys were around, and were pretty popular, but when the iPhone came out - boom. And now we have a huge slew of competitors who are releasing phones that look just like an iPhone. Funny that!

    The platform is very transparent up front - ie, you know it is locked to AT&T, you know the app system is tightly controlled by Apple, you know the hardware is tightly controlled. None of this is hidden. If you want a hackable phone, it is yelling at you right out that it's not the purchase for you.

  • by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdotNO@SPAMworf.net> on Friday August 07, 2009 @11:41AM (#28986647)

    Normally Apple is on a totally different playing field from any competition... Not here, and it will be interesting to see how they deal with this. :) I am betting lawyers and politicians.

    Unfortunately, that is true. For a jailbroken iPhone/iPod Touch can be trivially enabled to pirate App Store (the official Apple one) apps. Jailbreaking won't get you the ability to install pirated apps, but it's trivial to do it (basically you enable a new repository, which involves maybe 5 or 6 taps and a bit of typing, then another 4 taps or so to install the required tool).

    The only interesting thing is, considering how easy it is to pirate real App Store apps, how long until Cydia gets locked down to prevent people from doing the same to its paid apps? RIght now it isn't much of a problem because the vast majority of Cydia apps are free...

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland @ y a hoo.com> on Friday August 07, 2009 @11:45AM (#28986701) Homepage Journal

    Please, MS and Sony have done far more then Apple.
    Actually, the DMCA has done for more then any of those companies.

    I am not excusing Apples behaviour here, just pointing out that Apple is the least offender out there.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 07, 2009 @11:46AM (#28986705)

    apt-get has it right IMO:

    Ubuntu (or debian?) blessed apps are categorized as such. If someone only wants such blessed (and signed) apps, they can limit their search to that space. If you want to take chances, you can open up to the 'multi-verse' of apt-get where stuff is placed, but not blessed. You lose the sense that someone has inspected the code and found it ok, but you gain the ability to get things that didn't seek/get such a blessing if you want it.

  • Re:Good For Them! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jo_ham (604554) <joham999&gmail,com> on Friday August 07, 2009 @11:52AM (#28986773)

    It sounds like your beef is with the phone companies - and rightly so.

    I think Apple would love to sell you an iPhone that works on any carrier. They would make more money - there is very clearly a market for people who want one but don't want AT&T, just as there is in the UK for people who don;t want to use O2. Unfortunately, they just can't do that right now and are obligated to try to keep you from unlocking it to change networks (even though they know its fruitess since jailbreaking is trivial, they are contractually obliged to try to stop you).

    The same process happened with the iTunes store. They didn't want to sell DRM'ed music tracks - customers don't like it, but it was the only way they could do so at first. Now it has changed somewhat and DRM-free music is available for sale, but it's still not Apple's content, so they are selling it based on an agreement with the actual owners.

    I'm sure that if the exclusive deal is not renewed with AT&T (or another carrier makes a better offer) that the locking will change. It is an artificial barrier that exists solely to further the business model of AT&T - it's not Apple's decision. The VOIP and tethering is AT&T again (didn;t you hear the very thinly veiled digs at AT&T during the WWDC keynote - it is clear that Apple are not happy with them and don;t mind publicly hinting at it with huge comedy wink-winks).

    The consumer pressure is good though - it;s the only serious way to get companies to change things that are not necessarily in their obvious interest (like DRM on music, or tethering, or the dropping of firewire from the cheapest Macbook). Apple reverted that change in response to customer complaints - I expect they are trying to negotiate with AT&T about some of the nasty restrictions on the iPhone.

  • by Chirs (87576) on Friday August 07, 2009 @11:55AM (#28986821)

    I am against DRM in its current form.

    I am not against DRM implemented properly (i.e. in such a way that it allows for legal exceptions like fair use, satire, copyright termination, companies going under, etc.). However, the chances of that happening are essentially zero.

  • by mini me (132455) on Friday August 07, 2009 @11:59AM (#28986847)

    because they are effectively admitting that they had it wrong

    Perhaps they determined that older vehicles, that are only capable of safely traveling 55MPH, were no longer in use? Road construction isn't the only thing that has changed since the speed limits were previously set.

  • by Dog-Cow (21281) on Friday August 07, 2009 @12:22PM (#28987131)

    Jobs is worth millions, if not Billions. You post on slashdot. Who made the mistakes here?

  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Friday August 07, 2009 @12:51PM (#28987511)
    The reason why Apple is so lax is because of their past in the homebrew computer club. They realize that "unauthorized" modifications end up with a better system, they can use it as a test.
  • by garcia (6573) on Friday August 07, 2009 @01:04PM (#28987679) Homepage

    You know why I won't do it (again)? Because after two weeks applications stop working. You click the icon and it opens and then immediately closes. You delete the application and reinstall it and that issue moves to another application. Before long your phone icon or Safari icon stop working and you're forced to reinstall everything on the phone. Yeah, Jailbreaking is cool and I love the fact that you can run apps you normally cannot but I really do need the most basic functionality of the iPhone to work too.

    BTW, I realize that this doesn't happen to everyone at all times but it happened to me more than enough times to make it not worth it to do again. I've been happily running my standard iPhone for the last 8 months w/o issue. YMMV.

  • by AshtangiMan (684031) on Friday August 07, 2009 @01:50PM (#28988237)
    Ringtones are easy enough on a non jailbroken iPhone. The first thing I did when I got mine was to download some free software that will turn any of my mp3s into a song that iTunes sees as a ringtone (switch sound file converter or something). From there I use free editing software to create a 40s clip (WavePad sound editor). Sync. New ringtones. 10 minutes on google and downloading was all it took. I probably won't jailbreak my phone until my contract period is over. I figure by that time my 8GB iPhone 3G will be a dinosaur and there will be myriad options.
  • Magnusson-Moss act (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 07, 2009 @02:28PM (#28988763)

    Thanks to the Magnusson-Moss act, if you installed a third party air filter, hood or aftermarket headlights, for Ford won't be able to void your warranty on the transmission, for example. Warranty shouldn't be voided just because you opened the (software) hood, unless it can be proven that your changes caused the problem.

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