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Jailbreakers Finally Free to Play - and Apple Wins the Game

By Jesse Herman MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Dec 17, 2010 5:00 AM PT

The recent announcement that Apple was pulling the plug on the API that allows applications to ask if an iOS device has been jailbroken is very significant. Immediately, the Web has blown up trying to quantify the meaning of this decision. Sitting on the sidelines, it's looking more than ever that Apple is playing chess, while others are playing Parcheesi.

Jailbreakers Finally Free to Play - and Apple Wins the Game

Apple recently ceased its development and potential implementation of a subscriber identity module (SIM) card -- which I discussed in my column earlier this month. This SIM card would have allowed for use among several carriers -- sort of like a current open source hack that is perfectly legal, except provided by Apple to eliminate the middle man.

The prospect enraged several carriers, particularly in Europe, so Apple stopped and the mobile services won, right? They may have won the battle, but they are losing the war -- and the battle victory was just diminished by the jailbreak announcement.

Score One for Consumers

The latest turn is a win-win for Apple. It has conceded to the carriers and the customers at the same time. The worst that can be said is that it is going with the flow of public sentiment and the laws that govern.

At the same time, Apple is strengthening its bottom dollar, as opening the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad up will only drive sales of its products. At worst, users will have to shell out a few Abe Lincolns to convert their devices in order to be carrier worthy.

This is pretty cool, very acceptable, and becoming mainstream in a proud and deserving way. All around it is a win for consumers, who are looking for the product of their choice, with as many options as possible and at an affordable price.

With Power Comes Responsibility

Remember when CDs sold for US$18 a pop and consumers gobbled them up soon after release anyway? The same thing is going on with cellphones, as people are continually signing up to long plans and expensive phones. Now all it takes is a bit of research and the cost of a new phone and cell plan can be much cheaper, with the only thing lost being a warranty.

Apple is not as obtuse as Metallica was during the rise of Napster and free tunes. In that case, the master of puppets decided to go against the tide, and it cost in the court of public opinion. Really, the group was simply out of touch with reality -- its judgment clouded by greed and ignorance.

In this case, Apple clearly knows what it can and can't control -- and if nothing else, this indicates it won't be controlled by carriers any longer.

We can thank Google for opening up the mobile world, with the contrived implication that it was better than Apple for allowing a more open system. That really no longer applies, and Steve Jobs has seemed to take a "whatever" stance against the jailbreak movement.

Pretty much everyone is excited, because the kids (us) get to go out and play. We are growing, so we can handle the responsibility.

Security Warnings

Before a mom lets her kids go out and play, she warns them of potential dangers. This releases her from responsibility in the world of "I told you so" and on Main Street.

The message to businesses is to proceed with caution, but that's the message with anything IT. If a company sees a need to jailbreak, it will act accordingly. There is absolutely no reason not to beyond potential security risks -- so look both ways, create backup files, and you'll be good. Just like Jobs is saying "whatever" to the consumers, we are saying the exact same thing back.

More than anything, Apple is leveraging the power it has and not compromising standards in any way. The direction of the industry is obvious, and it's only a matter of time before this reality sets in for everyone -- manufacturers, carriers and consumers alike.

Jesse Herman is a freelance writer and founder of the RepairLaunch repair services network.

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