Apple may be making a large mistake.
While the debate itself — whether “jailbreaking,” or enabling an iPhone to accept and use non-Apple apps, is copyright infringement — is intellectually interesting, at the end of the day Apple’s insistence that jailbreaking constitutes infringement could land it in deep water in terms of its market share and popularity with the public.
The recent public-relations fiasco that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) brought down upon itself with its bulk lawsuits against infringing music downloaders is a case in point. Those lawsuits are absolutely supported by the copyright laws; however, the overzealousness with which they were pursued resulted in a steep drop in RIAA’s credibility. I have clients, friends and acquaintances who now pay close attention to music labels and boycott the RIAA because of these lawsuits. RIAA woke up and has stopped the wholesale suing of individuals who download their copyrighted music (they enforce through ISPs now … it’ll be interesting to see if/how that works).
Apple’s refusal to open up its technology so that others can develop and distribute applications has landed it in the Unpopular pile before. It lost the battle for supremacy in the marketplace for its computers through this policy; that’s too bad, too, since Windows is a pale imitation of the Mac interface. I guess Apple didn’t learn its lesson.
The iPhone is a Cool Gadget, but it is not the only Cool Gadget out there; other phones, with similar prices but more permissive licenses, distinctly outrank the iPhone in sales. And that would be because … ? Oh. Right. Users can get software from anywhere for their phones without jailbreaking.
Wake up, Apple, and smell the coffee. Sharing Is Good and Helps Maintain Market Share. I’d hate to see you go under through misguided and overzealous protection of your IP.
And this comes from a copyright lawyer who uses a Mac. But not an iPhone.