Cracked Apps and the Future of the iPhone

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A Trip Through Time

Before we start on this article, let me just break the ice by saying that we here at Bright Hub do not condone the act of piracy - on ANY platform. On the iPhone that means installing cracked IPAs. On that note, let’s talk about what’s currently happening in the iPhone world in terms of pirating and IPA cracking.

The Old Climate

There was a time and a place when iPhone piracy and jailbreaking was non-existent. The platform was thriving, but the hackers that roam the Internet were working out how to crack the device. The App store was in its infancy and flatulence apps outnumbered the legitimate, larger apps that now populate the stores. A game meant a flash app that had been re-purposed to fit the iPhone SDK. Times were definitely simpler.

The New Climate

Flash-forward to 2010. The iPhone is now in its third iteration and jailbreaking is synonymous with the huddled nerdy masses who own the device. Piracy is rampant on those devices that are aware of the Installous system and AppSync. To that end, Apple seems to be doing nothing, mostly because the market is so competitive and the jailbreaking group is such a niche.

The bottom line is that Apple doesn’t see the jailbreaking community who pirates as a real threat, and I can’t blame them. Apps on the app store are currently going through the best supply-and-demand cycle around since oil in the 70s. Currently, huge companies like casual gaming giant PopCap are selling their $30 PC games as $2.99 iPhone ports. And that’s because the market is both cheap and competitive. Apps over $10 simply don’t work on the device.

What Can be Done?

The piracy climate in the iPhone world isn’t an easily resolved problem. For those users pirating apps on the device, it’s mostly due to bitterness and annoyance over Apple’s restrictive policies. So remedying that would be nigh impossible. Perhaps if Apple’s new iPhone 4.0 SDK implements fundamental changes like OpenSSH and 3G Unrestrictor, then those people will finally come over to the other side. But the chances of that happening are about the same as a man being struck by lightning consecutively twenty times in a row.

Whether Apple decides to implement the changes or not, the fact remains that piracy is an unavoidable issue on successful devices like the iPhone. Apple’s doing the best they can by keeping the market competitive for the apps and keeping prices down. This could lead to a successful renaissance of developers back into the App store, but to do that, Apple has to stop treating its customers like they’re five-years-old and accessing the Internet without a safe-search filter for the very first time. We purchase the devices to be able to use them as we choose to, and Apple’s software philosophy is going to have to change to see the number of pirates go down substantially.