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Apple Takes Aggressive Next Step in the Ongoing Jailbreak Dance

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iphone_lockIt can’t really do anything about the iPhone hardware that’s already on the market, aside from trying to block jailbreaking via software methods again and again, but Apple (s aapl) has made hardware changes to the latest shipments of iPhone 3GS devices that should ensure they can’t be unlocked, at least for the time being.

The newest devices hitting the market have an updated boot ROM that blocks the exploit typically used in jailbreaking the 3GS, known as the 24kpwn exploit. iPhone Dev-Team member MuscleNerd confirmed that the block does indeed mean that for now, a standard jailbreak on these devices is out of the question.

The 24kpwn exploit was originally discovered early on in the production life of the iPhone 3GS, thanks to connections between the iPhone Developer community and iPhone unlockers. George Hotz (also known as geohot), building on the iPhone Dev Team’s work, published a way to jailbreak the 3GS a few weeks after the exploit was revealed.

Apparently, this is the first time ever that Apple has changed the boot ROM on a production device. Previously, Apple has waited until it released brand new devices to do this, like when the 3GS was originally introduced. Presumably, there is a not insignificant cost associated with making that kind of change mid-production.

In all likelihood, it’s only a matter of time before another exploit is discovered and taken advantage of in order to jailbreak the newer 3GS phones, too, but for now, Apple has dealt a significant blow to the Dev-Team and those who’d rather not rest comfortably under the yoke of Apple and friends. Of course, if you haven’t bought your device within the last week, you should have no problem using the recently released jailbreaking tools for the most recent iPhone OS release, 3.1.2.

Apple’s main problem with jailbreaking, in all likelihood, is the fact that it leads to significantly high rates of piracy on the company’s devices. According to MacRumors, of the nearly four million jailbroken iPhones estimated to be in existence, a full 38 percent of those are using at least one pirated app. Additionally, of iPhone apps that have been successfully cracked and distributed, a full third of the installations are of pirated copies.

So, to Apple’s mind, jailbreaking is depriving it of a nice chunk of its revenue on some of the most popular apps available in the App Store. Even if the boot ROM update only effectively blocks jailbreaking for a month or two, it should have a positive effect in Apple’s income stream for that period.

14 Responses to “Apple Takes Aggressive Next Step in the Ongoing Jailbreak Dance”

  1. At this point I couldn’t care less about jail breaking. For those who do, and are occasionally inconvenienced by it, jail breaking exploits holes in the architecture and we should EXPECT Apple to close them. Same is true with this firmware, it’s an exploit Apple needs to close. Jail breakers like to act like it’s a kind of “war” with Apple, but it’s no such thing.

    I don’t believe Apple is any more concerned with jail breaking than they are with Hackintoshing. They’ll always denounce it (they must, since they can’t allow a business to spring up around it ala Psystar), but they’ve never gone after users for either offense like the music labels have sued for piracy. Apple just doesn’t care that much as long as it’s a hobbyist thing.

    Finally, as regards to the bottom line, I suspect it affects Apple’s very little. If you buy the phone from AT&T, then break it, Apple already got their piece of that pie.

  2. I would have to agree with Josh as well. His solution seems to be a win/win for both consumer and developers seeing as how I might be more inclined to buy a more expensive app if I knew it was worth it based on the trial period. With the in app purchase addition for developers in 3.0, the option is much more conceivable than in 2.x versions. But seeing as how there isn’t anything remotely like this, I’m forced to make a decision based off of customer reviews (biased) and the developer (biased), rather than my own opinion of an app. I don’t see how you can say this is unethical; rather the opposite. It lends a hands on way for fair judgment of an app.

    I jailbreak mainly for this reason. I would gladly prefer a legitimate solution from apple, but seeing as how they haven’t so far, I’m forced into other “less-than-legitimate” solutions. I think apple should really start looking to what people are doing with jailbroken iPhones in order to see where their shortcomings are.

  3. Gazoobee


    You need to go back to your high-school ethics class. The argument you are making is illogical and morally bankrupt (and you have no “integrity.”)

    It’s complete nonsense to say that because you can’t play the app before you buy it, that you have the right to steal it. It’s more nonsense to imply that because you have bought an app or two that met with your approval, that you have somehow become moral again.

    Your argument basically boils down to “I want, so I should get.”

    It would only gain some kind of moral imperative if the situation was the same as in the old DRM music days where you were not *able* to get a fair deal from the companies in question. Unfortunately, the situation is not the same at all. Those people making the apps *are* giving you a fair deal and so is Apple. It’s not 100% the deal you want, but it’s fair.

    Fair enough so that you “going rogue” just because they don’t give you exactly, precisely, everything you want is just not justified.

    Civil disobedience and fighting “bad laws” in the case of freedom and justice is what you are hiding behind, but what you are doing is nothing so noble at all.

    • so someone has to blindly try a app based on the discription and the 3-5pictures they show?
      i agree with josh i do the same and if a really like the app i get it off the apps store. dont like the idea of pay know try later.

    • Unfortunately, Apple really gives no way to demo an application. How many developers for OS X (or Windows, for that matter) make you purchase their software without trying it first? Not many. Even Adobe has demos of all its software. Purchasing an application from iTunes based on (at most) 5 still screenshots is rather sketchy. I’ve bought apps that I later thought, “Well, that was a waste of 3 bucks.”

      Were Apple to include a trial period for full apps, I think that would be better. Include some better copy protection so that they can’t be cracked. Here’s a solution: You download an app to iTunes (or directly to your iPhone) and it lasts for, lets say, a week at most. Having probed the very root of my iPhone, I know that each app installs a preference file that is only removable if you manually delete it. Or you can restore the entire phone. So, after a week has gone by, the app opens to the main screen and says “Purchase” or “Quit”. The preference file remains static, knowing that your demo date started on a certain day. The only way to erase that date would be to completely restore the iPhone, no backup involved. The user would have to be stupid to keep restoring every week, just to use an app. The app would never be auto-deleted, but rather it would remain until the user took action, whether to manually delete the whole app or buy it.

      This offers a much greater alternative to trying cracked apps, then upgrading. In the process of installing the official app, it erases the previous information installed by the cracked version. Thus, all data is lost. An iTunes official upgrade would preserve the data, thus making a fabulous experience for one and all.

  4. Actually, there are two versions of the iPhone 3G: the model shipped from July to September has an older bootloader than iPhones produced after September. The first round of 3G iPhones had a chip that was easier to unlock than the later version. Thus, I believe this is the second time that Apple has changed the hardware midway through the run.

    Yes, I jailbroke my iPhone. I’m still using an original 2G iPhone. I like having the option to run it on the cheaper T-Mobile plans. While many people are simply pirating the apps from, I have done differently. I downloaded the cracked version of Rolando 2, tried it out, then promptly went and purchased it from the official app store. As Hackulous has said, they intend the cracked apps to be for demoing- Apple has not given a good trial method for 3rd party apps. By downloading the cracked app before purchase, one is able to determine if they think the real app is worth a purchase. Yes, it is just as easy to keep the app, but that is where integrity comes in.

  5. I’ve jailbroken my phone for the freedom it gives me to customize the device beyond what Apple allows. My jailbreak has allowed to me to make custom wallpaper, SMS tones, and even useful things like lock the rotation so that I can surf in bed without the screen flipping out on me. Oh, and Google Voice.

    Ideally, Apple would make a legitimate way to do all of this, then I wouldn’t need to jailbreak!

    I do not pirate software. I do not want to pirate software.