More and more members of the tech community are “jailbreaking” or hacking their iPhones or iPod Touches to allow the installation of third-party applications. Techies love the increased control over their devices, but jailbreaking also allows users to install free versions of paid applications. Pirated versions of this software or “cracked” apps can be downloaded from numerous file-sharing sites on the Web.
However, many users who jailbreak their devices justify the downloading and installation of pirated apps as a chance to give them a trial run before purchasing. They claim this is a necessary evil since Apple does not offer free trial periods for applications, which forces developers to offer “lighter” versions of their software. While this justification may apply to some users, other pirated apps are downloadable only as premium versions of the software. Since there are more than 85,000 applications to choose from, users say jailbreaking allows them to save money on apps that are not worth purchasing. However, application piracy statistics suggest otherwise.
A mobile analytics company, Pinch Media, shared some if its findings regarding iTunes app store piracy at a conference recently. Without explaining how it gathers information, the company said that it had been tracking jailbroken devices for several months and has begun to get a picture of the jailbreaker community and its habits. According to their research based on studying over 4 million jailbroken devices, 38 percent of users have at least one pirated application installed. The company admits that this figure may be lower than the actual number since pirates take extra measures to avoid detection.