Scott Forstall told Pandora to jailbreak iPhone to build a native app

Scott Forstall told Pandora to jailbreak iPhone to build a native app


Scott Forstall told Pandora to jailbreak iPhone
Pandora become one of the first third-party iPhone apps.
Photo: Pandora

Scott Forstall, a former senior vice president at Apple, allegedly encouraged Pandora to jailbreak the original iPhone so it could get a head start on building a native music streaming app, according to a new report.

Forstall met with Pandora co-founder and CEO Tim Westergren during iPhone’s early days — before it had an official App Store — and encouraged the company to use “back door toolkits” while “we get our act together at Apple.”

Forstall: Jailbreak iPhone to get a head start

Young readers may not know that when the iPhone made its debut way back in 2007, it didn’t have an App Store. You got the small selection of first-party apps that were pre-installed — like Messages, Notes, and Safari — and … that’s it.

Steve Jobs, who was CEO of Apple at the time, was initially against native third-party software. He instead wanted developers to build web apps that iPhone users could load up in Safari, which were obviously limited in functionality.

So, jailbreaking — which did allow native third-party software to be installed on iPhone via Cydia — was born. Apple was dead against this publicly, but Forstall, who was head of iOS in 2007, apparently encouraged it in some cases.

‘Jailbreak some iPhones’

Forstall met with Westergren and Pandora CTO Tom Conrad and “talked for hours about what Pandora had learned about streaming audio from putting apps on flip phones, like Motorola’s RAZR, for wireless carriers,” reports Vice.

At the end of the meeting, Conrad asked what Pandora could do to prepare itself for a future iPhone that would include an App Store and native APIs.

“Forstall said, it wouldn’t be a waste of your time to jailbreak some iPhones and use the kind of back door toolkits that were being distributed by other people to build a native Pandora app while we get our act together at Apple on something more formal.”

Pandora quickly followed that advice and started jailbreaking iPhone units so that they could build a native Pandora app that would be pretty much ready to ship as soon as the App Store was official. And the effort paid off.

Pandora was big on iPhone

Pandora was, unsurprisingly, one of the first iPhone apps to hit the App Store when it opened its doors in 2008. And just nine months later, it had been installed on a whopping 21% of all iPhone handsets in use.

As for Forstall, he was forced out of Apple in 2012 after he reportedly refused to apologize for the disastrous rollout of Apple Maps in iOS 6.

The full Vice report is a fascinating read for those interested in music streaming and how Spotify became king. We urge you to check it out.

Cult of Mac's Newsletters

Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.