iPhone 4 unlocked, your turn cat

The day after GeoHot announced he was quitting the jailbreak/unlock scene and shut his virtual doors, the dev-team’s planetbeing announced he has successfully unlocked the iPhone 4.  With a jailbreak tool by Comex most likely already ready to go, the cat & mouse game is reaching a bit of a frenzy.

In the past 24 hours a lot of vitriol has been thrown at GeoHot for apparently quitting the scene in a fit.  Personally I can’t say I blame him for reacting to a bunch of whiners who expected him to serve them in this way.  But this young genius also admitted to his own naivete when he said in his now-closed blog that “I didn’t fully realize most of the current scene don’t care unless they are getting something. Now I do.” It’s obvious that while it was fun for GeoHot because it was a challenge, a lot of people have come to rely on what he has provided.

Which brings me to the main point of this blog entry:  the damn cat.  Apple really has failed to realize that one of the reasons the iPhone is so cool is because it’s a great device that is capable of doing a lot more than Apple allows, and that its precisely the existence of jailbreak tools that makes a great many tens of thousands of customers want no other device.

I’ve written elsewhere:

I’ve been an Apple buyer and fan for decades, but have grown so tired of their lock-down mentality since the iPhones. They used to be a company about tinkering with tech, about all the fun mods you could make. Now they’re all about controlling the user experience. I wish they’d get over the cat and mouse game. Ignore the jailbreakers and don’t make it so hard to do. Their “new” end user base can enjoy their controlled experience in ignorant bliss, and the tinkerers can do what they will.

The point here is that the more difficult Apple makes it to jailbreak, the more desperate users (like me, and like you dear reader) become for it, the more irritated those who have the skills to provide it become, and the more resentful a lot of jailbreakers get.

But the odd thing is this resentment is directed towards the tiny group of jailbreak personalities (GeoHot for quitting, the dev-team for waiting to release), and not toward Apple, which deserves it so much more.  Apple has similarly mostly managed to deflect resentments from the end-user non-jailbreakers toward their network carriers (mostly AT&T) rather than at them for their product. (But this too may change as it becomes obvious that the iPhone 4 “grip of death” issue is not only their design flaw but not really fixable with software.)

It’s in Apple’s own interests to keep the cat & mouse game a game, but a game whose rules are not so stacked as to be unplayable.  The moment it becomes that, Apple will have turned tens of thousands of fans into people as irritated at them as they are at AT&T.  And that will be the beginning of the great decline.

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