My Thoughts: Apple’s Conflicting Stand On Piracy

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I find it really ironic that Apple is doing everything in their power to make the iPhone un-jailbreakable. Just recently, Apple has updated the bootrom (iBoot-359.3.2) on the iPhone 3Gs units that shipped in the past week.

While this won’t fully stop the jailbreaking community from creating a new jailbreak update, it will however make the iPhone 3GS un-jailbreakable for the meantime. For how long, that’s the question.

This constant move on keeping the iPhone hack-free definitely shows that Apple is very much against piracy.

Yet do you know how easy it is to find and install a pirated version of the newest OS X, Snow Leopard? If you’re resourceful enough, I’m sure you’re running on one right now.

And how many people out there have actually installed a single-user installer on multiple machines, or shared a single-user installer with a “couple” of close friends, instead of buying the family pack?

Pirating the OS X is actually very easy since there’s no need for any serial key. The first time I’ve installed an OS X (that was with Leopard), I was puzzled that there was no serial key on the box or on the CD. I found it even weirder that there was no prompt coming from the installation for me to input the serial number.

And what’s definitely more mind-boggling is that every time we do a Software Update on our Mac machines, Apple does not even check the authenticity of our OS. Unlike with Windows Update, where your machine gets locked out of Windows if the update sees that you’re running on a pirated version.

But I guess I kind of understand why Apple is more vigilant with keeping the iPhone piracy-fee. In a way, I see it as Apple’s way to protect the iPhone App developers.

But it also seems to me, that Apple is less concerned about piracy compared to Microsoft.

Image: SmokingApples

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7 thoughts on “My Thoughts: Apple’s Conflicting Stand On Piracy

  1. Developers are the least of Apple’s concerns, when it comes to the anti-jailbreak policy on the iPhone. Apples #1 (and probably only) concern is revenue stream. Consider that EVERY application you use on your non-jailbroken iPhone has to come through the app store and Apple gets a cut of every sale. If everyone jail breaks their phones and can get their apps anywhere they want, then Apple loses the ability to control the revenue stream (and misses out on their slice).

    As far as “protecting the developers”… The current system hinders and limits developers. True innovation comes in an open market where free enterprise competition can occur. The app store requires approval before your app can be sold, it then promotes those it deems worthy, and takes its cut that it determines. In the retail world, if I am marketing a new product, I get to set my cost/profit margin, MSRP, and can choose to market directly through my website, through one chain exclusively, or wholesaled to every big box store on the planet.

    Apple’s decisions are never about the customer or developer, but about Steve Jobs need for control and for the stock holder’s bottom line.

  2. It is not conflicting. Apple fixes exploited bugs on the iPhone to maintain the integrity of their revenue source of the iPhone, the app store. OSX’s purpose is to feed hardware sales, allowing it to be free od validation and the like allows for it to spread more and drive hardware sales. Makes perfect sense. I would just like to see Apple find ways to work on securing apps from being cracked rather than spending the effort to complicate freeing up the iPhone OS.

  3. “But I guess I kind of understand why Apple is more vigilant with keeping the iPhone piracy-fee. In a way, I see it as Apple’s way to protect the iPhone App developers.”

    It’s more to protect their network partner and the other iPhone users on that wireless network from malware. Said malware could compromise and bring down the wireless network which would affect the iPhone and other phone users on that network. Apple seems to believe that a bad accident such as that has bigger implications for a proprietary network that is monetarily associated with their product than general computers connected to the internet.

    The Mac OS has always had no authentication check nor serial number. Apple has a EULA which indicates how they want the product to be used, and most users honor the spirit of that agreement, but multiple installations and now hackintoshes on an amateur level are treated with a nudge-nudge, wink-wink attitude. Only commercial sellers like Psystar are treated to legal orders.

    The key difference between the computers and the phone is that with the phone Apple is beholden to a partner who might try to legally extract damages if things go wrong.

  4. Apple is not conflicted; it has a history of patiently putting the pieces of hardware and software in place before it delivers some functions.

    This is what it did with Quicktime, Webkit and Webdev which eventually led to the iPod and the iTunes Music store. That what it is doing with the iPhone. It is closing the loopholes — one by one.

    Why is it not checking for authentication and serial numbers? Currently, that would do Apple no good because hackers could get around the 32 bit kernel which is the default for the next year. By next year, 90 percent of Mac Applications will have been converted to 64 bit code. When the 64 bit kernel kicks by default, it has some impressive security enhancements. That is when I expect Apple to start tightening the screws.

    Apple needs to be careful to avoid abusing its legitimate customers. We Mac users shouldn’t mind if Apple starts checking to verify that we have permission to do tasks.

    It is likely it will start with software installs. If we are on a company machine, it could start asking a central data base if we have permission to install software or perform specific tasks. We could be locked out of root mode.

    The Snow Leopard DVD, broke common practice, by loading part of itself onto the disk before it started asking us questions. If that installer is in a protected virtual machine, then it could disallow overwriting the system. That could disallow writing the OS on non-Apple computer or a flash disk drive. It could check with Apple or your company to verify your permissions to do this.

    This would be transparent to personally owned computers, but it could be extended to jail broken iPhones. I expect this to happen slowly and in areas that do not disturb the majority of Mac users. It will be said that Apple is creating enhancements for Enterprise customers. The IT departments do want to control what you can do with their machines. Eventually, it will be applied to jail broken iPhones and applications stolen from the iTunes store, but not for a couple of years.

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