Will The iPhone's Apps Store Kill The 'Jailbreak' Market? Maybe Not (AAPL)

Conventional wisdom is that once Apple (AAPL) starts selling apps for the iPhone and iPod touch next month, people will stop “jailbreaking” their phones so they can install unofficial third-party apps. We’re not so sure: We think there could be enough demand — specifically for apps that Apple isn’t likely to approve for its store — to keep the jailbreak market going.

We seem to be in the minority on this one. At last week’s Apple developer conference, jailbreak interest was “non-existent,” Daring Fireball’s John Gruber says today.

Clearly, none of Apple’s actual conference sessions or labs were going to cover, nor even mention, unofficial APIs. What I’m saying is that it didn’t seem like any attendees were talking about them or showing off jailbreak apps in the hallways, either. Could be I just didn’t happen to run into them, or that the sort of people who remain interested in writing jailbreak iPhone apps are not the sort of people who go to WWDC.

But as long as Apple is in charge of vetting apps for the iPhone store, we think there will be some interest in jailbreak apps. Such as:

  • Not-quite-legal game apps like the iPhone Gameboy/Nintendo emulators
  • Stuff that competes with Apple apps, like a new Web browser, media player, etc.
  • Mobile porn apps (though most of this will likely be via the Web)
  • Apps that run in the background, which Apple’s SDK doesn’t allow
  • VoIP apps that run over AT&T’s (T) 3G network, which Apple won’t allow

We don’t think this market will be particularly large — mostly hacker-types, programmers, hobbyists, super-early adopters, etc. And it’s possible the new iPhone 3G will include extra hurdles to prevent or discourage people from jailbreaking their phones and installing unofficial apps. But we’re not convinced that the jailbreak market is going to die when Apple’s apps store rolls out.

What’s your take? If it’s possible to jailbreak the iPhone 3G, will you? Or will you only install Apple-approved apps from the iPhone store?

See Also:
O’Reilly Bets On iPhone ‘Hackers’
Five Great Apps For Hacked iPhones
Why Apple’s iPhone Apps Platform Could Spark Huge iPhone Sales

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