The business of “jailbreaking” Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) devices will likely only grow as the California-based company expands into new markets. Apple is famous for its so-called “walled garden” ecosystem that restricts its customers to the use of Apple-approved software. For example, Apple users are limited to purchasing their iPhone apps from the official App Store, where every program is carefully vetted by Apple before it is allowed to be sold.
This is ostensibly done by Apple in order to ensure a seamless and secure user experience that is free from malware. However, some Apple users are not content to stay within the confines of Apple’s garden.
As reported by the Washington Post, every new official version of iOS has been followed by an unofficial jailbreak version of the mobile operating system that allows its users to download unapproved software or access new functions on their devices. The iOS jailbreak software is typically offered free of charge and is developed by idealistic hackers who believe users have a right to choose what software they want to put on their devices. However, Apple’s recent expansion in China’s smartphone market via a distribution deal with China Mobile (NYSE:CHL) may have led some hackers to jailbreak the iOS 7 software for profit.
As previously noted by Apple Insider, a new iOS 7 jailbreak software known as “evasi0n7” was recently found to have been bundled with Taig, a Chinese app store that included some pirated apps. Rumors soon emerged that the “evad3rs” developer team had been paid by Taig to bundle its app store with the software. Although the developers initially appeared to confirm these rumors in an open letter, a follow-up letter denied that the team profited from the iOS jailbreak software.
“We have received no monies from any group, including Taig. We will not be accepting any money,” wrote evad3rs. “Our donations are being given to Public Knowledge, Electronic Frontier Foundation and Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure to help protect jailbreaking as your legal right.”
Although evad3rs may not have profited from the iOS 7 jailbreak, the controversy highlighted the possibility of making a profit in the underground industry of jailbreaking Apple products. Per a report by the Washington Post, the trend toward for-profit jailbreaks will only likely increase, especially since the security loopholes the software is based on have recently become desirable commodities for governments that want them for surveillance programs.
Regardless of some iOS device users’ wishes to expand Apple’s tightly controlled ecosystem, the company doesn’t appear to be changing its stance on jailbreaks anytime soon.
“Apple’s goal has always been to ensure that our customers have a great experience with their iPhone, and we know that jailbreaking can severely degrade the experience,” said Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller to the Washington Post. “As we’ve said before, the vast majority of customers do not jailbreak their iPhones as this can violate the warranty and can cause the iPhone to become unstable and not work reliably.”
More from Wall St. Cheat Sheet:
- Most Apple Devices Now Running iOS 7; Not So With Android’s KitKat
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- Analyst: Don’t ‘Over-Exaggerate’ Apple’s China Mobile Deal
Follow Nathanael on Twitter @ArnoldEtan_WSCS