I just got a call from Apple’s PR department to discuss today’s historical DMCA exception ruling that makes iPhone jailbreaking legal.
Unfortunately, because of the legal issues involved, the Apple spokeswoman would only provide me with the following statement on the record:
“Apple’s goal has always been to insure that our customers have a great experience with their iPhone and we know that jailbreaking can severely degrade the experience. 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.”
It’s short and sweet: Apple wants to control the iPhone experience to keep things simple and stable. Jailbreaking opens the door to software that can ruin that experience (and maybe steal your identity or spread viruses). For more information about Apple’s stance on jailbreaking, see this support document: Unauthorized modification of iOS has been a major source of instability, disruption of services, and other issues.
It does, however, answer the main question I had: does jailbreaking void the warranty? Yes, it does.
The other question I had is whether Apple will sue companies that publish or market jailbreaking software?
The spokeswoman would only say on background that Apple hasn’t in the past prosecuted such companies or individuals.
Now that jailbreaking is explicitly legal — at least for individual consumers — it’s not unreasonable to think the jailbreaking scene may become a little less underground. It may even prompt a cottage industry of unofficial App Stores, like the unofficial app store Cydia and the now-defunct Icy.
There are an estimated 10 million jailbroken devices out there, which represents a pretty big market for developers. Maybe legitimate software companies will publish jailbreaking software, instead of shady rings of underground hackers? And maybe the will become a healthy market for unofficial and banned apps. They will never have the marketing clout of the official App Store, but it’s not hard to imagine software vendors marketing software that Apple rejects as “the app Apple doesn’t want you to have.”