Try and stop us

On Twitter, Mike Cane and later Jenn Webb linked to a Washington Post article on the rising profitability of “jailbreaking” the iPhone.

Closed since its launch in 2007, the iPhone OS has been hacked enough that Apple tried to get the Library of Congress (LOC) to declare that efforts to open the Apple iOS are a violation of copyright. Last summer, the LOC decided otherwise.

The Post reports that what was once a technical challenge is growing into a business. A college senior earns $50,000 a year helping people do things like switch wireless carriers. The largest non-Apple store for iPhone apps took in about $10 million last year – small compared to Apple, but an indication that people want more ways to customize their devices.

Some of the apps provide functionality many of us would like to see straight out of the box: wireless synching of an iPhone to iTunes; the ability to block ads when using Safari on a mobile device; and (heaven forbid) the ability to tether an iPhone to another device (an iPad or a laptop, for example) to access the internet.

In “Context first”, I wrote that “piracy is the consequence of a bad API.” Although the LOC ruling makes jailbreak efforts less of a pirate story, there is still the interesting parallel.

Both Apple and AT&T, the sole carrier until earlier this year, have worked to block any use that doesn’t exist in their walled garden. The folks finding ways to customize their iPhones have a simple response: try and stop us.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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