Apple’s latest efforts to counteract jailbreaking are more likely to hurt the company, its reputation, and its revenue than to prevent iPhone owners from going out-of-bounds with their device software. I’m talking about recent reports that iBooks stops working on jailbroken devices.
Granted, jailbreaking is clearly not something Apple approves of, and the company hasn’t been as aggressive as others (like Sony), which is pursuing legal action against PS3/iPhone jailbreaker Geohot) in going after those responsible for cracking open its platform. But jailbreaking isn’t illegal, according to a recent ruling, and Apple is messing with people’s ability to enjoy their legitimate purchases in this case.
The problem doesn’t affect all jailbroken devices, but if you’re using the latest greenpois0n jailbreak code and running iOS 4.2.1, built-in checks put in place by Apple will prevent iBooks from opening DRM-protected books on your device. Opening content legitimately purchased from the iBookstore results in a message being displayed that reads “There is a problem with the configuration of your iPhone. Please restore with iTunes and reinstall iBooks.”
Ars Technica points out that Apple may be required to prevent DRM-protected contents from being opened on jailbroken devices under its agreement with book publishers, but even so, it’s not going to change the fact that users will interpret it as a punishment aimed squarely at them, as if iPhone owners needed another reason to seek the refuge of Amazon’s larger library, multi-platform support and more feature-rich app.
Between this move and Apple courting the ire of content producers with its new in-app subscription and e-book sales rules, I’m worried the company is on the verge of damaging its relationship with consumers in irreparable ways. Of course, this isn’t the first time Apple has run afoul of its content partners. But with Android providing an increasingly tempting alternative delivery platform, might it be the last?
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