Jailbreaking smartphones — hacking them to install unapproved software — has been ruled legal by the U.S. government’s copyright office.
That’s nice for the niche population of phone tinkerers out there, but it shouldn’t have any impact on Apple or the iPhone‘s developer community.
While jailbreaking your iPhone lets you install apps that haven’t been approved by Apple, and aids iPhone app piracy, it’s still not something that most people are going to do — the advantages aren’t worth the hassle.
In early 2009, after the WSJ ran an article claiming that jailbreak App Stores are a “growing threat” to apple’s iPhone business, we explained why jailbreak App Stores are no threat to Apple.
The reasons are still valid:
- They don’t cause Apple to sell fewer iPhones, which is the point of Apple’s mobile phone business.
- They are useless to the vast majority of iPhone users, especially as Apple’s iPhone customers become even more mainstream — and less techie. (Most normal people do not want to tinker with their phone — they want their phone to work. And most apps that normal people want can be obtained from the real App Store.)
- Apple’s App Store revenue, while nice, is icing on the cake. It’s a break-even business or a tiny profit at best.
- The kinds of apps Apple wants to sell on the official App Store — high-end games, real software from real companies — will not show up in jailbreak stores.
- Apple can easily disable jailbreak apps with a software update. Sure, the jailbreak folks can enable them again. But this hassle will get old for all but the most committed.
- There’s plenty of porn on the Web, which any iPhone can access.