Apple's iPhone Is Broken

Some consumers aren't satisfied with Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPhone 4. Demand for a new version of the iPhone-hacking software JailbreakMe was so strong after its release yesterday that servers couldn't keep up, News.com reports.

JailbreakMe works directly in the Safari browser on the iPhone, unlocking it to accept software not available in or rejected by the App Store. Jailbroken phones can also be used on networks other than AT&T's (NYSE: T  ) .

When an iPhone 4 owner jailbreaks his device it says one of three things:

  1. He's not satisfied with the available iPhone software.
  2. He's not satisfied with AT&T.
  3. He's not satisfied with either.

Why are jailbreakers buying the iPhone 4 in the first place? Aside from its antenna problems, reviewers have widely praised the device's design and innovative video calling feature. Apple is known for hardware design, and the iPhone 4 is no different.

Yet hardware has its limits. Developers want to do more with the device than Apple will allow. I'm not talking about stupid ideas like the Baby Shaker app. I'm referring to genuinely useful ideas such as memory management.

Coders are moving faster than Apple, just as the Mac maker is demanding more of them. Knowing that, can any of us really be surprised that developers are taking their tools to Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Android platform in increasing numbers?

According to a variety of research reports, Android handsets from the likes of Motorola (NYSE: MOT  ) and HTC outsold the iPhone during the second quarter. To be fair, Apple launched iPhone 4 at the end of Q2, but this isn't the first time we've seen this kind of data.

But Google isn't the big winner here; Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) is. Jailbreakers have been cracking their iPhones on account of AT&T for years. Every new jailbreak gives Verizon ammo for a marketing campaign -- presuming the iPhone joins its network in January, as media reports say.

That's my take. Now it's your turn to weigh in. Does a rash of new jailbreaks amount to chinks in Apple's iPhone armor? Let the debate begin below.

Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He had stock and options positions in Apple and a stock position in Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google. The Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool, and its disclosure policy is taking a heavy dose of Vitamin C.


Read/Post Comments (9) | Recommend This Article (10)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On August 03, 2010, at 2:58 PM, fauxscot wrote:

    Nice bait-and-switch post title.

    Article sucks, but the title sure was provocative.

  • Report this Comment On August 03, 2010, at 3:16 PM, makelvin wrote:

    A jailbreaked iPhone from AT&T's GSM network phone cannot be used in Verizon's CDMA network phone. The only other choice for the jailbreaked iPhone users in the States is T-Mobile. I am not sure why you think that Verizon is the biggest winner from the jailbreaked iPhone.

  • Report this Comment On August 03, 2010, at 3:17 PM, Winskidoodle wrote:

    Part of your hypothesis is just plain wrong. You claim that there are 3 reasons why someone would jailbreak an iPhone:

    1. Not satisfied with available iPhone software

    2. Not satisfied with AT&T

    3. Not satisfied with either.

    Since you obviously have a preconceived notion, and obviously a biased slant in your writing, let me educate you on something. The vast majority of the people that I know that jailbreak their iPhone is not because they are dissatisfied with either. The majority do it because they can. It's like tinkering inside a computer, or putting Linux on an iPod. Why? Because they can and it's something different.

    You may want to try journalism some time. It's fun.

  • Report this Comment On August 03, 2010, at 3:17 PM, millsbob wrote:

    agree with fauxscot. no actionable items, just an attempt to stir the waters with a provocative title, and too many TMF articles are like this. please stop. even better, please provide some useful subtext visible in RSS readers so those of us trying to digest the glut of stuff TMF puts out can sort the wheat from the chaff. as a subscriber to 2 of your services, i find this Incredibly annoying.

  • Report this Comment On August 03, 2010, at 3:44 PM, MNNML wrote:

    Also as a subscriber to you services, I find this exceptionally annoying - not just for Apple - but most of the 'articles' posted are merely either advertisements for TMF or totally unrelated to the underlying stock. In this case, your premise seems WAY off.

    1. Just because some people are jailbreaking their iphones - doesn't mean its some kind of tsunami. I know lots of people with iphones and none of them have jailbroken their phones. Do you know what percentage of people jailbreak their phones? How many of those people are just trying to make a quick buck by re-selling them at a higher price on Ebay, etc (This seems like what the VAST majority of users are jailbreaking for)

    2. The antenna 'problem' is a non-issue in my area - I didn't get the free case - and have no problems with the phone.

    3. I feel like reporting this article as breaking the 'fool's rules'. But then again, TMF never listens to customers anyway - so its really a useless endeavor.

  • Report this Comment On August 03, 2010, at 8:10 PM, daniinLA wrote:

    I'm going to have to agree with Winskidoodle that there are plenty of reasons to JailBreak your iPhone that have nothing to do with worms in the apple. IPhones appeal to several (often overlapping) groups of people -- design junkies, gadget junkies, and mac fans, not to mention all the casual users that just like the phone. I'd say lots of people trying to JailBreakMe is exactly the opposite of a problem -- it means a whole generation of coders think this is a great platform to play with. If they just hated it, they'd buy a different phone.

  • Report this Comment On August 03, 2010, at 9:04 PM, ikkyu2 wrote:

    Jailbreaking is against the terms of service. One of the things you get with an iPhone is Apple's excellent customer service, access to the Genius Bar, phone support, warranty care, and so on. The reason is that Apple wants each user to have an excellent user experience with the phone. Apple guarantees it and they stand behind it.

    People who buy an iPhone so they can jailbreak it are paying for this guarantee of excellent user experience, and then tossing it away in favor of unvetted apps - things that break the phone, that break the UI guidelines, that in the worst case could be malware. If you want a phone whose battery runs down and upon which you can install mal-code scraped from the gutters of the Internet, you have a better option - buy a Droid. The rest of us want a smartphone that gives us the Apple user experience. Apple - and its walled garden - delivers that.

  • Report this Comment On August 04, 2010, at 10:48 AM, gman5556 wrote:

    Apple fans are always so sensitive.

    The reason people jail break their phones is so they don't have to pay for hundreds of apps. Thats it. The same reason why people download music illegally. Which tells you what? apps are too expensive on itunes and that it is really easy to jailbreak the phone.

    Again why are you all so sensitive? You get so angry its like this guy insulted your mother. Steve Jobs has you eating out of the palm of his hand.

  • Report this Comment On August 04, 2010, at 4:29 PM, mDuo13 wrote:

    I agree that this article is too much headline, not enough substance.

    Anyway, some counter-arguments to people here (just to play devil's advocate):

    1. If people are buying jailbroken iPhones online at marked up prices, then that doesn't decrease the number of people who find the un-jailbroken phone dissatisfactory. It just means there's a middle-man profiting off the difference.

    2. Yes, Jailbreaking is against the ToS. But what qualifies as "an excellent user experience" with the phone differs from person to person and Apple only serves specific tastes in that regard. My idea of "an excellent user experience" includes being able to choose an attractive text-message sound that's not one of the same 3 that everyone else uses. No matter how much time I spend talking to Apple support reps, I'm not going to get that. But I can if I jailbreak it.

    3. Yes, jailbreaking the phone opens you up to more security vulnerabilities and apps that will be buggy or drain battery. But, you know those holes that hackers use to jailbreak phones? More malicious hackers can take advantage of those same holes to run malware on your phone without asking permission. Even if you don't jailbreak it.

    4. It's not just the cost that drives people away from Apple's app store. Sure, that's part of it, but there are other examples. Some apps add features that Apple hasn't or won't approve in their store. Tethering on a 3GS is one such example. Another one is the ability to wipe your text messages entirely. I had a coworker who received so many automated texts that the app would often crash rather than loading, and he would have to delete thousands of texts one-by-one. There's an app -- for jailbroken phones only -- which lets you delete ALL your texts. He jailbroke his phone for that reason.

    So in other words, jailbreaking a phone is all about tradeoffs. Tradeoffs Apple isn't willing to make, but some of the iPhone's users are. Having the market-leading device has its advantages (such as a wider range of peripherals). Sure, many of them can find an alternative in an Android-based phone. I suspect that over time, many of them will (or might even go elsewhere, for example to BlackBerry, WinMo7, Symbian, or PalmOS). For the time being, though, jailbreaking is a way for customers to get more value out of their shiny Apple hardware without leaving the market-leading segment or paying extra.

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