This page was initially a rant at Apple’s closed mobile platform strategy, which had given birth to a counter-culture of hackers who fought back to open the platform via any available back door, taking sizable bites out of Apple’s early mobile arrogance.
Apple and its competition (the god particle of capitalism) have rendered such tilting moot. But I keep part of the initial rant here to provide definition of the terms involved. Fortunately, we don’t need these services anymore and hopefully, the need will never return. But if we forget or competition falters, the badness will return. Here’s to not forgetting, and to fighting back when necessary.
Jailbreaking enables downloading and running of non-Apple-authorized (unsigned) applications. I am not aware of a compelling non-signed application at the moment that I need, but I derive pleasure at the philosophical layer from the thwarting of Apple’s gaming of their customer base via bogus restrictions that serve to maximize their margins and minimize their competition.
Jailbreaking gets increasingly complex as Apple upgrades its OS and firmware to prevent it. With a recent Mac OS X, one could no longer place an iPod in the required Download Firmware Update (DFU) mode while tethered directly to a Mac USB port (only iTunes is allowed to do that, I expect). But somebody discovered if you place a hub between your iPod and the computer, DFU mode will not be preventable.
In mid 2010, the world took a large bite out of Apple. With iOS 4, it made available a simple PDF exploit that provided a web-based jailbreak as well as a gaping security hole. Release 4.0.2 patched it. Nearly simultaneously, it was ruled that DRMCA did not prohibit jailbreaking an iDude. Apple still asserts it voids the warranty, but one suspects most consumers give small credence to Apple bully threats.
Unlocking provides the iPhone a capability to access a non-sanctioned carrier, thus circumventing the usurious fees. Why should most customers with light data usage subsidize the few heavy hitters?
Jailbreaking and unlocking are best left to technically skilled customers with a real need and perhaps a backup iDude if Apple succeeds in thwarting the effort. If Bad Apple ever renews its protectionism, we may all need these end-run activities eventually, to preserve our investments. Here’s to a good Apple.