The United States Government has ruled that it will allow “jail breakers” to run free. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone jail breakers that is.
The term “jailbreaking” is commonly used to describe the act of unlocking one’s iPhone in an attempt to run programs that have not been approved by Apple. Traditionally, the iPhone maker would only allow users to download Apple-approved apps from its iTunes store. Once the phone is unlocked however, iPhone users can download apps from any market.
This practice of hacking the iPhone was considered illegal until yesterday, when the U.S. Government ruled that iPhone users can lawfully unlock their cell phones in order to download applications from outside Apple’s market.
The new ruling has software programmers excited. Many claim that Apple would demand modifications to submitted apps, while others said that the iPhone maker would flat-out reject apps for vague reasons. The Apple iTunes store is clearly an exclusive club.
While Apple never actually prosecuted anyone for jailbreaking iPhones, the company would disable hacked phones through system updates, and would not honor warranties on unlocked products. And this practice will still continue.
Essentially those who hack their phones will be able to download any app they want, however, they will not have the option of updating their phone, while also risking the warranty on their expensive gadget. Freedom from Apple’s apparent iTunes tyranny may come at a price.
While Apple clearly holds very strict guidelines for its apps, Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) has a much different approach with its Droid smartphone and Android operating system. Apple’s biggest smartphone competitor allows its users to download apps from outside its Android market.
Despite the ruling, Apple is still discouraging its users from hacking their iPhones. In a statement, Apple spokesman Natalie Kerris claimed that the crackdown on jailbreaking was to protect Apple users.
“Apple’s goal has always been to ensure that our customers have a great experience with their iPhone, and we know that jailbreaking can severely degrade the experience,” Kerris told reporters.
It remains to be seen whether more iPhone enthusiasts begin jailbreaking their smartphones. It seems that those who had the will power to hack their phones in the first place had little trouble doing so.
Regardless, those who now decide to jailbreak their iPhones must still forego system updates and still face voided warranties. Despite Uncle Sam’s best attempts, iPhone users still cannot claim total smartphone liberty.
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