Cydia and Apple: Lawsuits will be a sideshow

Cydia and Apple: Lawsuits will be a sideshow

Summary: Today’s Wall Street Journal has a big article about a new renegade competitor that is challenging Apple’s App Store and in the process whetting the appetites of IP lawyers. With all due respect to the legal eagles involved, technology and the global supply chain should make this debate moot.


Today’s Wall Street Journal has a big article about a new renegade competitor that is challenging Apple’s App Store and in the process whetting the appetites of IP lawyers. With all due respect to the legal eagles involved, technology and the global supply chain should make this debate moot. 

The deal is this: Cydia’s founder is an application developer who, like many, doesn’t see himself as an enemy of the cool company of Cupertino. He does, however, want to have other app developers able to get to market and get paid for their IP. Apple, however, stands to lose some pretty serious margin contribution (30% commission on estimated 2009 sales of $800M, according to Piper Jaffray) and, arguably, a degree of control over the cherished User Experience. The legal issue is that Cydia’s apps work only on “jailbroken” iPhones, a process (or crime) that involves installing software written to modify the operation of the device. Cydia’s founder, Jay Freeman, claims 1.7 million iPhones have installed this software to date. Apple, understandably, sees a copyright infringement. Lawyers see an irresistibly interesting case pitting the little, ironically named Freeman, against the sinister controlling monopoly—almost like the famous 1984 Apple Super Bowl ad being shown in reverse.

The interesting thing for technology and supply chain folks, however, has less to do with the potential precedent-setting debate surrounding this matter than with the design, production, and distribution strategies that a smart company like Apple can come up with to put the issue to bed. Apple is number 1 in our Supply Chain Top 25 (by the way, supply chain professionals are welcome to vote in our 2009 Supply Chain Top 25), and not because of their lean or six sigma discipline. The secret sauce is in how industrial design, software design, and electronic design weave together into an irresistible whole. In recent years, Apple has added another layer to its supply chain innovation—retailing. The Apple stores, not to mention the AT&T distribution deal for iPhones, puts this once totally vertically-integrated computer manufacturer squarely in the business of relating to consumers all the way from concept to profit. 

Defending the App Store will ultimately depend more on technical and business decisions made in component supplier collaboration, retail promotion, and technical support systems than decisions in the courtroom. Good lawyers will buy time to let Apple’s strategists work out the best way to protect its cash relationships with consumers. Hopefully, this will also allow creative types like Mr. Freeman to get paid for their creative work. But as the music industry learned the hard way with Napster, IP law is not enough to protect a business—physical supply chains must be part of instantiating control.

Topics: Legal, Apple, Enterprise Software, Software

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  • Typical of Apple

    Grossly over price phone and a scam to steal 30% of the money made by 3rd party app.

    When will apple understand that a Computer or Phone is NOT A GAME CONSOLE!

    I think we will never see the day when Apple will make a honest buck. For Apple the only way to do business is to ripoff consumers. Lucky for the them that there is a suc ker born every minute.
    • Apple Better Lose

      Let's count the ways...

      1. Apple doesn't support, condone, or provide warranty service for jailbroken iPhones. It's not directly costing them money.

      2. DeCSS is legislatively illegal, but it hasn't helped stop the distribution of software that uses it. Outlawing Cydia would be just as effective.

      3. The better way wouldn't be to use the courts, but use the system they already have. If they offered SwirlyMMS, Winterboard, and the rest of the software library available on Cydia on the App Store, there would be no need for Cydia.
      3a. Apple would get egg on their face because they're legislating their competition out of existence. I don't think that even Steve Jobs could give that a positive PR spin.

      4. While Cydia users are also app store users, not all app store users are cydia users. I don't know anyone with a modded iPhone that doesn't have app store apps complimenting their cydia apps. In fact, most jailbreakers I know have more of the former than the latter, and most of their app store apps are paid ones. In other words, cydia users spend more money in the app store. Alienating this group would be foolish at best.

      5. Napster was relatively underground until the RIAA started suing them. Every time the RIAA gained ground in the courts, the number of Napster users reached a new high. I can't see Cydia *not* following this process.

    • no, numbnutz...

      The iPhone is actually priced lower than the Blackberry with similar features. The iPhone is not a simple "cell phone" and that's where you made your first error. It's a Smartphone + iPod + Computer, so it's the best value of all phones at the moment.

      your 2nd error is you are not understanding software development. the raw 70% take home pay of the App Store is the best deal for programmers in the entire industry. Apple pays credit card fees, bandwidth, maintains the store, etc. A developer makes a program, uploads it and collects 70%, a groundbreaking deal.

      The iPhone is many things, it's a full blown PC in a small case, full browser, full email, GREAT game machine, iPod, camera and GPS.

      You just seem very jealous of the iPhone and the wonderful value it provides to Apple and their customers.

      No Smartphone even comes remotely close to features given for such a low price, so learn about how it works for everyone, until then, we can only laugh at your comment.
      • Full blown PC without multitasking or copy and paste

        Sorry bud but when compared to the iPhone, my HTC Touch Diamond is cheaper, more mobile (not big, bulky, and heavy like iPhone), has twice the resolution, can multi-task, copy and paste, and I don't need Jobs' blessing to install something on [b]my[/b] (get it, [b]my[/b]) phone.

        [i]No Smartphone even comes remotely close to features given for such a low price, so learn about how it works for everyone, until then, we can only laugh at your comment.[/i]

        Actually, it is [b]your[/b] comment that we are all laughing at. :)
        • incorrect...

          the iPhone doesn't require cut & paste since all Apps are linked together, data simply flows from one App to another. you should actually use an iPhone and see that 1980's cut & paste is no longer needed.

          the HTC has the same resolution, it's just it has a tiny 2.8-inch screen compared to the generous 3.5-inch screen on the iPhone.

          the HTC doesn't have multi-touch, no iPod, no App Store, no decent games, only 4GB of memory, on and on...

          but the true downside to HTC is it runs Windows Mobile as the OS, nobody wants to run Microsoft products, much less in a phone so that makes it useless for most people.

          The HTC has been widely panned by users and critical reviews saying it's not anywhere close to an iPhone, so thanks for confirming my point.
          • iPhone needs cut and paste

            All software is linked together at the OS level on any computing device. How could it be otherwise? But is there some magic integration that takes information from one iPhone App and enters it in another iPhone App? Almost universally, there is not, and it's a major annoyance.
            Here is a simple example: I routinely have teleconferences on my calendar, with a telephone number and login string. Ideally, the telephone number and login string would be linked to the phone. In fact, I can't even cut them from the calendar and paste them to the phone.
          • Been using an iPhone since day 1. You are wrong.

            "you should actually use an iPhone and see that 1980's cut & paste is no longer needed"...

            Ok, that sort of narrow-minded, condescending, stupidity really pisses me off, whether from you, Steve Jobs, or from Apple. You just hit a real hot button for me on the iPhone.

            I've used the iPhone since the first day of the first release. Just because YOU don't need cut & paste, doesn't mean that most of the rest of us don't need it. You sound just like f&$%ing Steve Jobs, that arrogant prick. If all I did was play games, listen to music, and look at Britney's MySpace page all day on my iPhone, maybe I wouldn't need cut & paste either. Most of us grownups do a little more than that.

            Want a simple example of why cut & paste should be included? When adding a lot of information, there are times when some data is repetitive. Say I'm stuck adding the addresses of 25 new contacts who all live in "New Wickensfosterburg." Why the hell should I have to type the name of the town 25 times when a more intelligently-designed system would let me cut the name once and paste it for each new contact? That's just one simple example of the VAST number of places where cut & paste is needed. The absence of cut & paste on the iPhone is completely moronic.

            While I'm complaining about moronic exclusions from the iPhone design, let's talk about MMS. MMS should have been included from day 1. Steve Jobs is an arrogant jerk for saying we don't need it. His idiot decision forces me to open a f*!#ing browser and manually type (because there is no cut & paste!) insane message id's and passwords to view phone photos that friends, relatives, and associates send me from their less-expensive, yet fully-functional phones. WTF was Jobs/Apple thinking by leaving MMS out? Are they a bunch of f*&^ing morons out on a day pass?

            This phone isn't revolutionary. It's mostly useful but severely crippled by mentally-retarded design choices, plain and simple. It's like they built the coolest looking car on the planet, but made it 25 feet wide so it can't use the same roads that everybody else on Earth uses.

            My annoyance at these missing features has been growing constantly since I bought the damn phone. When the 3G came out and these features still weren't included, I started looking around for my next phone. If those two features don't appear in the next iPhone version, I'm gone for good. I gave Apple a more than fair shot and they have let me down. Apple has had plenty of time to fix these major screw ups. My patience is at an end. I will no longer overlook these arrogant and mentally-retarded design omissions just to use the features they actually got right. Everyone else has caught up and passed them. Now Apple needs to play catch up.
          • What is truly, truly sad is that these aren't complicated features

            [i]The absence of cut & paste on the iPhone is completely moronic.[/i]

            I will be the first to admit that I'm a gadget freak. I love gadgets. What is so sad is that the showstoppers in the iPhone aren't even terribly complicated things to fix! I could understand if some things were left out because they were risky and had never been done before but things like stereo bluetooth support and MMS have been implemented a million times in phones [b]far[/b] cheaper than the iPhone. Sure, the missing features are annoying but even worse than that, [b]there was never any good reason to leave them out in the first place[/b]. What's even worse is how much Apple pays astroturfers to apologize for these moronic decisions.
    • I missed it

      I guess I missed the part where Apple forced you to buy an iPhone and
      forced the developers to write software for the iPhone. I wonder how
      they pulled that off?

      There's this thing called a 'free market'. Apple offers a product and
      service. You choose to buy it or not to buy it. If you choose to buy it,
      it's not a ripoff - even if you think it's a lot of money. No one held a
      gun to your head.

      Same thing for developers. Apple said "we have this software
      distribution service with the following terms, including the fact that
      we keep 30% for marketing and distribution. Are you interested?" The
      developers either chose to sign up or not to sign up. How is that a
      scam? They're certainly free to develop for Blackberry or Windows
      Mobile or any other cell phones if they don't want to develop for

      You don't think the iPhone's price is low enough. That's fine - you're
      entitled to your opinion. That doesn't mean Apple is dishonest or
      ripping anyone off. I happen to think BMWs are overpriced for what
      you get. That doesn't mean they're a ripoff, just that I won't buy one.
      I'm certainly not going to go running around demanding that BMW sell
      me a car on MY terms.
      • People were forced to buy an iPhone

        [i]I guess I missed the part where Apple forced you to buy an iPhone[/i]

        Hey, if the battle cry from those who have never purchased anything other than Macs is "Microsoft is evil because you are forced to pay for Windows" then yes, it is just as accurate to say that Apple forces people to buy the iPhone. Note I said [i]just as accurate[/i]. I'll leave it to the reader to determine just how accurate both statements are.
  • RE: Cydia and Apple: Lawsuits will be a sideshow

    if apple will turn down many developers for what ever reason then if we the consumer have to pay high prices for the phone, apps and mandatory data plans then we should be allowed to get those apps from another source. In some other countries there are laws in place that deny apple from locking the iphones to just thier service. I believe it is high time we adapt these same laws and stop the hugh monopolies by these huge coporations. It is a shame the way we get screwed by these companies. I say yea!!!! for at least we have some way to get apps that apple deny us.