Thursday, November 22, 2012

Do You Prefer an iPhone or an iBrick? Jailbreaking Censorship.

Apple takes the topic of jailbreaking seriously. It's not about those boring terms of use or EULA - more and more often users seem to prefer their phones to remain safe and sound, while the vendor ensures that nobody feels encouraged to take that fatal step.

Apple Support Forums are full of references to jailbreaking, it's legality and impact. I recently came across a very popular issue where I could not connect to iTunes and a recurrning pop-up kept asking to try again. A hint about modifying DHCP settings to DNS of seems to eventually have solved the issues, while others suggested steps as drastic as jailbreaking. I noticed a recommendation about that and added (what I thought at the moment was) a neutralizing reply to that iPhone hacker. I just didn't feel right leaving obscure and extreme statements like that on publicly available resources. 

Apple Forum <Edited by host>
<Edited by host> what used to be a suggestion to
 jailbreak your iPad or iPhone
That forum post flat out said that the only way to resolve that issue is to jailbreak your phone. 1 or two days later, something interesting happened. That post didn't include any foul language or inappropriate imagery. Today, in place of that comment, we see a cryptic text that reads <Edited by Host> . 

In forum terms, that could possibly equate to administrative moderation. But I think it's more than just simple moderation. It's 'white glove' 21st century censorship. As negative as that description may sound, I think the host's behaviour belongs on that forum for the following 3 reasons:
  1. There really are better ways to address a pop-up message - multiple forums, blog posts and comments suggest a wide variety of tips and tricks, and risk of negative impact of jailbreaking far outweighs the possibility of benefits
  2. The more jailbroken devices users circulate, the harder it is to build reliable apps that span both fully-functional and tinkered-with smarthphones, and the harder it is to maintain a stable mobile environment for all of us. That is exactly what killed an innovative mobile operating system called Windows Mobile 5 and 6 (as recently as in 2007).  But does anybody even remember that system? Given the power of mobile devices 6 years ago (approx. 20 times slower), out of the box that Microsoft mobile system worked like a charm even on the worst cellular coverage on my Samsung BlackJack II. Once people started leaving unorganbized content behind on the hard drive, attempting to impose their onw way of file and folder structure, performance and usability took a nose dive
  3. Do you prefer an iPhone or an iBrick? - as one of the Apple forum participans puts it in his/her comment, more often than not, jailbreaking leaves you with a broken device and no way back. During the days of Windows Mobile 6, users had a way of totally restoring an OS while getting full support from Microsoft and a wealth of online help articles. Apple won't help if you jailbreak your iDevice
Now we all know that Apple's position is solid on that topic. They don't mess around - they'll 'erase your thoughts' if you recommend jailbreaking. I wonder what others think about other aspects of jailbreaking: ethics, piracy, safety, etc.


Dominik Ras said...

Hi everyone, you may have seen a comment under this post recently with nothing but vulgar expressions. I wasn't sure what the purpose of it was and even though I respect everyone's freedom of expression, I made a decision to remove it. Both the username and the comment consisted of curse words, seemed totally out of context and brought no merit to topic of my post.

At the same time, I'd like to ensure all of you that I am warmly inviting all of you to comment, contribute and share your thoughts on my occasional ramblings at

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