Why do iPhone and iPad users jailbreak? Freedom

Why do iPhone and iPad users jailbreak? Freedom

Summary: Millions are jailbreaking their iOS devices in order to add much-needed features to their iPhones and iPads. But jailbreaking opens up a whole world of pirated apps to owners, which is a bad situation for Apple and iOS developers.


The new iOS jailbreak tool evasi0n has been used by millions of iOS owners to remove the limitations that Apple placedfor security and anti-piracy reasonson the mobile platform.

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Does jailbreaking or rooting devices, and BYOD mix?

Does jailbreaking or rooting devices, and BYOD mix?

The short answer is no. The slightly longer answer... definitely not.

But what are jailbreakers hoping to achieve from jailbreaking their iPhones and iPads?

Look at the numbers. It has been reported that the evasi0n jailbreak tool was used to unlock more than 7 million devices in the first four days following its release. That's a lot of new jailbreakers, but it is not unexpected given that evasi0n was the first tool to be able to unlock the iPhone 5, iPad 4, iPad mini, and the fifth-generation iPod touch.

Since their release, Apple has sold millions of these devices, and a good proportion of these are going to have ended up in the hands of people who had previously owned a jailbroken iOS device.

Given the popularity of Apple's recent crop of iOS devices, along with the overall popularity of jailbreaking, I'm not surprised there was pent-up demand for a new jailbreak tool.

But what is it that drives people to jailbreak? Having been an avid observer of the jailbreak community since the first jailbreaking kit for the original iPhone hit the Web, only a few days following the release of the device, there are several key factors that drive people to jailbreak.


It's apps that drive the sales of iOS device, and it is access to even more apps that is the primary reason why people jailbreak. There are some 775,000 apps in Apple's App Store, which sounds like it should be enough for anyone, but Apple places artificial—and at times arbitrary—restrictions on what the apps can and can't do. These restrictions don't apply to apps from unofficial application sources such as Cydia.

For the app or customization junkie, jailbreaking opens up a whole new world, giving owners access to apps such as SBSettings, WinterBoard, Nitrous, and Dashboard X.

Bug fixes

Another reason why people jailbreak their iOS device is in order to be able to fix—or at least alleviate—bugs. I've come across people who jailbroke their iOS device in order to fix Bluetooth bugs, audio hiccups, and even to allow them to patch security exploits and zero-day vulnerabilities. 

Jailbreaking to fix bugs seems odd to me, since the jailbreaking process itself can introduce more bugs that it solves. However, for show-stopping bugs, it can offer a short-term solution to a significant problem.


For some, jailbreaking is a freedom issue. They see their iPhone or iPad as their device to do with as they want, and don't appreciate Apple putting measures in place to limit what they can or cannot do with their purchase.

As strange as it seems, but I've known people jailbreak an iOS device and never install a third-party app onto it.


There's a dark side to jailbreaking: piracy. While I don't want to give the impression that every jailbreaker downloads pirated software—they don't—but that doesn't change the fact that Apple faces a big piracy problem, because the company generates take a 30 percent slice off each paid app. 

On the one side there are the hackers who crack apps in order to make them available for free, and sometimes adding malware in the process, and on the other side we have the end users who want access to paid apps for free.

Bottom line

Given the demand for jailbreaking, it is clear that an increasing number of Apple customers are not satisfied with what iOS currently has to offer and are turning to third-parties to fill in the gaps. It's obvious that the limitations Apple is putting on the apps that it is allowing into the App Store is pushing people to jailbreaking, a process that not only removes security measures from people's iPhones and iPads—especially if these devices are going to be used in a business environment—but also puts hundreds of thousands of pirated apps within arms reach.

It is clear that Apple is failing when it comes to striking the right balance between security and features. This is something that the company needs to address over the coming months. Either that, or make it even harder to jailbreak.

Topics: Apple, Hardware, iOS, iPhone, iPad, Mobile OS, Mobility, Smartphones, BYOD and the Consumerization of IT

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  • Freedom always trumps.

    It may take some time, but it will always break out.
    • To 95% of users, technology is not a political statement.

      And, for the most part, that is true.
      • Who said it was a political statement

        Freedom to use one's own property as one sees fit, subject only to the laws of the land (not the rules imposed by vendors); is not a political statement.
        John L. Ries
  • 2-5% is not an indication of...

    Increasing number of dissatisfied users. Come on AKH, I expect better than this of you.
    • So how many?

      How many millions of iPhones have to get hacked before it IS an indication that users are not satisfied?
  • The solution is an "Apple Sanctioned Jailbreak"

    Apple can legitimize Cydia, or something like it: an unapproved wild west where SBSettings, Winterboard, SwirlyMMS, iTransmission, and all likes of non-App-Store-approved applications. This can be done with the explicit knowledge that support for "legitimately jailbroken devices" will be limited to hardware issues only. At that point, the ONLY reasons to jailbreak your phone are principled freedom, and piracy.

    ...of course, Apple would never do that.

    • They have done that...

      Of course they can't legitimise Cydia; whatever that means, but they do support all hardware issues regardless of jailbreaking. They do not support any software issues on a jail broken device, nor do they cover permanent software damage done by jailbreaking in the warranty, but why would they? You broke it, just like your screen or liquid damage.

      It's worth pointing out that the courts forced them into this; once you bought it, it's yours; you can do what you like with it, but they don't have to help you with modified software anymore than they do modified hardware.

      Of course you're quite right there are a few reasons people jailbreak,and piracy is number two after changing the display interface; every phone I've ever seen cydia on has screens and screens of apps... Apps you can get on iOS already... Maybe people who jailbreak are more likely to be high earners ;)

      Bug fixing?? This is a real reach; there are exponentially more bugs from jail broken iOS than there ever are on non jail broken iOS... Someone once brought me a phone with messages app missing; you could only access it through spotlight!

      Personally I've only ever jail broken devices to use on Linux as apple doesn't make itunesf or Linux surprisingly, but that was easily replaced by android. There's no real reason to jailbreak now; if you want to do that, just get android; it's easier and better to work with, plus a whole lot less buggy; I've jail broken 3,4and 5 and it does cause errors, a lot of them, plus some really buggy apps! Use iOS if you want the limited, but reliable day to day phone OS, get android if you want to play.... Or whatever; it's your device, just don't complain if you mess it up!
  • reason for jailbreaking...

    Simple... When I used to have an iPhone 4, I jailbrake it because I wanted to make iOS like Android.
    iOS is great, however Android is a lot more customizable.
  • As regards Apple

    One word:

    Alan Smithie
  • Why I Jailbreak

    Why I jailbreak. Adblocking. Don't want them, don't need them. Installing a custom hosts file is about all I do with a jailbreak. If there was a Safari adblock plugin I probably wouldn't bother. When JB is broken I use Atomic browser or similar.
    • If you needed adblock

      Apple would provide it. Apple does not provide it, so obviously it is not needed.
      • Right.....

        A fine example of iLogic
  • Don't get it

    If you feel the need to jailbreak, you're using the wrong ecosystem. Apple is not for you. A few years ago, you would have had Apple hardware envy if you decided to go another route, and I get why jailbreaking might have been more attractive. Now there's no need. Buy an Android device.
    Personally I'm pretty happy with what Apple gives me and don't feel the need to spend my life hacking it. It's a tool, not my life. Apple makes nice tools :-)
    • You Can't Block Ads on Android...

      ...without rooting. I don't want ads, so I root on Android and jailbreak on iOS. Both systems need to be more open or have the ability to become so without the hassle of a root/jailbreak. Why? Because it was never the case that one size fits all. This is the age of mass customization and neither Android or iOS gets that (WP either).
    • There are reasons

      AKH explained them pretty well actually. Personally I jailbreak because I like customization, tweaking, and seeing how far outside the Apple envelope the jailbreaking community can get. I use iOS because I like a stable OS - Android has not been as stable on the 3 devices I've used - and being able to run the latest OS.
  • Sheep by day and wolf at night.

    They must all be installing windows 8 on there iPads. That would be the perfect device, one that not only looks cool, but one that actually works as well, lol.
    • Why?

      I mean why install such an inferior OS on an iPad?
  • These are not NEW jailbreaks.

    Any iOS upgrade will undo any previous jailbreak.
  • Closed systems eventually fail

    Another illustration of why closed systems don't work in the long-term, when the needs and wants of users are not met. Think of Sony's BetaMax video tapes. Soon, the Windows-8 OS, unless Microsoft cleans up their act and makes it a much more universally-purposed OS. (Windows-7 is a very viable alternative.)
  • Geeks - True Geeks - just love to tinker! With apologies to Dr. McCoy.

    I confess I only read the title of AKH's blog but, really, I didn't need to read any more. Curiosity and the desire to improve a particular device has been rooted inside the soul of mankind ever since Eve tried to improve Mankind's lot with that Apple. (sort of neat how I incorporated the "A" word, eh?! Grin)

    Unfortunately, as with the bite of that apple, many jailbreak attempts result in undesirable consequences. Still, life goes on - one way or the other.