There are 100 million iDevice users in the world. The U.S. Copyright Office Monday had a huge ruling for the jailbreak community, and in fact all iDevice users and developers - officially declaring jailbreak legal
. Of course - there's still work to be done. Monday's ruling was a solid first step, but the road to an open mobile app market has some asphalt left to traverse.
The mobile app market is dominated by the iPhone. The Android market is estimated to do only 10% of the App Store's 2010 income. There are a few smatterings of mobile app stores (huh? what's a Pre?), but nothing coming close to Apple's share and position. If you want innovative, easy to use, cool apps - you need an iPhone. It's where the talent has set up shop.
Here's the thing - Monday says jailbreaking is legal. But with each firmware Apple breaks the jailbreak solution, erases jailbreakers' installed apps, and makes it more difficult to jailbreak the next firmware. New hardware checks in the iPhone 3G[S] and iPhone 4 are great examples of this continued anti-competitive behavior. Now - the jailbreak is obviously exploiting a security hole, so Apple is within their rights (and arguably within their RESPONSIBILITY) to patch these holes. The ultimate goal? No need for a jailbreak - being able to, say, install Cydia or Rock simply by dragging it into iTunes.
Rock Your Phone, an independent iPhone App Store which markets apps to jailbreakers (you're familiar), has already begun the next step in our shared battle to stop Apple from restricting access to independent apps for all iPhone consumers. This week, Rock Your Phone’s President, Mario Ciabarra, and its Chief Legal Officer, Joshua Horenstein, took the cause of the independent iPhone community to the U.S. Congress with Public Knowledge
, a national public interest organization dedicated to providing open and free access in the communication and technology industries. The Rock Your Phone and Public Knowledge team spent this week meeting with the offices of over a dozen Congressional leaders, including those from the Commerce committees in both the House and the Senate, to educate them about Apple’s harmful anti-jailbreak activities in the mobile application marketplace.
Ciabarra and Horenstein spent a (very) full week meeting with these key Congressional staff members, explaining and describing Apple’s current monopoly in the mobile application market place and its harmful effects on consumers and small businesses. I chatted with Ciabarra while he was there, and he was impressed with the responses. “U.S. leaders have been open to learning more about this rapidly growing sector of the economy and the actions of Apple to control this sector,” he said. These guys also emphasized another point - because the mobile application market has grown to such as significant size in the last two years (over $1.3 billion in sales
) and because Apple, a single monopolistic entity, clearly dominates and controls this market to the detriment of large and small businesses, this is now ripe for oversight and review by Congress and the U.S. government.
The major issue is Apple is 100% in control of this market. Ciabarra makes a good point to Congress - "giving a single entity control of what succeeds in an entire industry just does not make sense. Apple is using their monopoly to control content and technology in the app market industry and is harming consumers, small businesses like ours, and big businesses such as Mozilla, Skype, Google, and Adobe.” Rock Your Phone and the Public Knowledge team petitioned Congressional leaders for Congressional hearings attended by all interested parties to review and analyze the mobile application marketplace and Apple’s restrictions on the iPhone platform. “We’ve seen this before in the 1990’s with Microsoft. Monopoly power is not a bad thing, but when it is used to lock out competition to detriment of consumers and small businesses, we need government action to create and preserve a free and competitive marketplace. Only under these circumstances can the market ensure prices which reflect true costs, and also ensure that consumers make efficient economic choices regarding which technology and content satisfies their needs.”
In other words - it's my pocket computer. Let me install what I want, and stop deleting it with every update.
You can check out the full presentation the Rock Your Phone crew made to the various Congressional offices here