Jailbreak Development Stores - Sustainable or Just Ludicrous?

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Casting the First Stone

With the advent of development stores with paid content, an interesting question has started to brew in the Internet community: “Are these stores sustainable?” Of course, the splintered groups of fan-boys either applaud the decision to give the developers the benefit of some extra cash or decry the fact that open-sourced development is dead. To that end, we decided to break down the pros and cons of these stores.

In Defense of Paid Jailbreak Stores

Apple’s App Store is a joke, a walled-in garden. There are no adult-oriented apps. For better or worse, Apple feels that we are all not grown up enough to decide whether or not we want adult content on our phones, or if we even want to expand the functionality of the phone into territory it should already be going into anyway. The paid app store is an extension of this philosophy, to extend your iPhone beyond what Apple initially intended it to be.

3G Extender apps break the ridiculous “10 Mb” limit over the air, Intelliscreen-like apps push extra notifications to your lock-screens, and Blacklisting apps do what AT&T won’t for you - stop calls in their tracks. All these features could be built into the regular App Store, but they’re not, and the developers worked hard to get these apps into great working order.

Developers who work hard deserve more than just a pat on the back by an anonymous community- they deserve some money. How much money they’re making is still up in the air, as jailbreak phones make up a very small percentage of iPhones overall. And whether or not the amount being charged is sustainable is another issue. But it’s nice to see this even be attempted.

In Defense of Free Jailbreak Software

On the other hand, free software should continue to be free. How would you feel if your next upgrade of 7zip, CCleaner, and Spybot were all suddenly paid? Surely you’d feel like you’re being taken for a ride especially if the next version up was a minimal change. These developers certainly deserve to be paid, and it’s a new dawn and a new day for paid development in these jailbreak stores. An app being made from the ground up for the new store would be fine, but to simply re-purpose an existing app as a new property for money seems a little…soulless for developers that are supposedly open-source.

Amazing projects exist proving that open source and freeware can work and do work for the better good of the people wielding the technology. For example, this article was typed up on Google Docs, a completely free software suite on the internet that anyone can access. The same idea is behind the amazing apps that currently populate the Cydia repositories for free - like Categories, Installous, and Terminal.

So Who Wins?

I would love for free apps to always win, but the reality is that developers deserve their money as long as their apps are good and worthwhile. To even further take a hard look at what is currently going on in this scene, the market segment is so small and geared towards open-source that this might just lead to stagnation. The open-source people will switch over to paid development, and the people using Cydia will not follow them in that direction unless the apps are absolutely irresistible, which they currently aren’t.