Saurik talks Cydia revenue model, Cydia for Mac, and more

By , Aug 2, 2012

Have you ever wondered how much money Saurik makes for running Cydia? Or whatever happened to Cydia for Mac? Good. We’ve just come across the answers to these questions, and more.

In a response to a recent forum tantrum, Saurik decided to address a number of misconceptions in the jailbreak community regarding him and his popular underground app store…

For a little context, the following exchange happened in the Featured Themes section of ModMyi’s forums. A member went off on a rant about how Saurik is neglecting Cydia and other projects despite the fact that he makes “tons of money” off of the jailbreak community.

In his response to the rave, Saurik addressed the misconception that he makes 30% off of Cydia sales.

“100% – 70% (developer) – 7.5% (PayPal) – 7.5% (EU VAT) is nowhere near 30%. Cydia also bears a greater cost than I thought it would for outgoing payments (as almost every developer makes no money, so the PayPal fees end up being really expensive every two weeks to send “almost no money” to thousands of people), and if you subtract bandwidth and servers and the two employees SaurikIT does have, you are left with quite little; what is left is spent back on the community, including  bandwidth for non-Cydia things such as jailbreaks/TinyUmbrella, sponsorships of open conferences, etc. That TSS/SHSH server I run that people love so much alone costs many thousands of dollars a month.”

So doing some quick math, SaurikIT makes roughly 15% off of sales, and a majority of that is put back into the business. I’m sure Saurik has other money-making avenues, but he’s certainly not getting rich off of Cydia.

“Stores like this really do not make much money… you can claim it all you want, and you can be pissed about it all you want, but it doesn’t change the facts: Apple pretty much breaks even on the App Store (public earning reports, statements in press conferences), the Android Market loses money (analysis by a judge in a lawsuit based on internal accounting documents), and other random stores you see (including Cydia) are lifestyle businesses at best and pits of despair and debt at their worst (anecdotal statements and evidence from developers of alternative Android markets I meet at conferences). For me, this all honestly takes up much more mental time and pain for sufficiently little money that if I didn’t feel this community was important I’d be stupid for continuing to subject myself to rants like yours.

You have to understand that the most popular applications in the ecosystem are from Intelliborn, and I only get 1% of their earnings due the Rock deal… which, if you remember, is a deal where I paid $1 and did not actually get any real control of Rock (in fact, I specifically told them they could continue distributing and hosting the app itself, and they declined). As Mario (owner of Rock Your Phone) said to the Washington Post (in the same article where these terms were published): “I saw an exit strategy and I wanted to focus on developing [apps]“.

The deal he is referring to is Cydia’s acquisition of the Rock Your iPhone app store back in September of 2010.

And for those wondering, here’s what happened to Cydia for Mac:

“I’ve apologized a million tons about this, in every single possible forum I could imagine (and some in which I never would have thought it could come up), and am apparently going to be hearing about this until the day I die… I bet “where is Cydia for Mac (you *******)” is going to be chiseled into my tombstone. :( I am truly truly sorry. If it makes you feel any better, I have learned a serious lesson from this, and I no longer even tell people what I’m working on, lest I get held to it.

As I have stated on numerous other occasions: I got almost universally negative feedback from it when I announced it, including entire articles online calling me stupid for even having suggested it. I seriously left a conference early feeling like I had been half-laughed off of the stage for even suggesting the idea (yes: that’s definitely an overstatement of reality, but I kind of felt that way at the time). It wasn’t until half a year later (when Lion was released) that any reasonable number of people decided to say “maybe saurik isn’t so stupid after all”.

Meanwhile, the real goal was “Substrate for Mac”, and when I started getting more testers I discovered that it didn’t really work and likely wasn’t going to work without a lot of serious effort. Contrary to then what you will likely claim: I then actually put in a lot of serious effort, but in the meantime Lion came out and actually made the problem a lot harder with its sandboxes. Remember: unlike on iOS, there isn’t a “patch your kernel with a jailbreak” step.”

Saurik’s full response includes some interesting insight into some other topics as well, including WinterBoard and his thoughts on the Rock app store. It’s really worth the read, if you have the time. You can find it here.

I think the big takeaway from all of this is that the jailbreak community isn’t making any millionaires. In fact, far from it. And anyone, especially Saurik, could one day wake up and say the juice isn’t worth the squeeze anymore and leave to go do something else.

Thoughts?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

    ehhhh… is iphone 5 out and jailbroken yet??? thats all i wana hear

    • Sina

      Are you serious ?!

    • http://twitter.com/kriss631 Kriss Zavala

      You’re so stupid

    • http://twitter.com/randomprice Sol Estravís

      You’re NOT funny.

    • http://twitter.com/oneBurge Burge
    • Mohamed Hassabo

      …Really? You have about 40 dislikes now.

    • http://twitter.com/kielwallace Kiel Wallace

      scourge

  • notewar

    Saurik reminds me of Family Guy’s Jesus

    • Daniel Levi

      lol

  • http://twitter.com/oneBurge Burge

    Saurik is the only resin we jailbreak with out him there is no cydia … Bit sad about no cydia for mac but hay ho…
    Perhaps he should charge for the use of cydia .. Say $1 per year ..

    • http://twitter.com/redevil1987 Damian W

      you cant be serious with charging $1 for using cydia. It is dumb idea. Soon we will be charged for pissing and walking. I know $1 is not a lot, but there are limits to it. We are already paying for tons of things on iphone.

      • Aleksander Azizi

        what you said there, that’s called being sealfish. (No, that’s Not a grammar error)

      • http://twitter.com/redevil1987 Damian W

        If so I donated money to Cydia on many occasions. Feel welcome to donate money if you are not selfish, but dont force people to pay.

      • Aleksander Azizi

        *SealFish

      • http://twitter.com/oneBurge Burge

        No one is forcing you to jailbreak..
        A 1$ a year to use cydia is not to much and it will help to run severs and stuff.. The cost doesn’t have to be a $ it could be 50c .. Just remember the App Store is from a billion $ company and Cydia is not .. It’s run by saurik who has said in the past he can make more cash doing other things.. There could be even a one off payment of let’s say $10 that’s last forever ..

      • http://twitter.com/redevil1987 Damian W

        jailbreak is the main reason i spent 700 bucks on iphone. Therefore, I dont like to be charged additional costs. On top of this I happened to buy many tweaks from cydia. right now I have about 150 purchased tweaks which will probably account for 300 dollars at least all together. Then I spend around 200 dollars on app store apps plus in-app purchases. I really dont want to spend anymore. I would not call myself selfish. I like to help cydia and its developers. It seems to be unreasonable to charge money for something that does not need to be charged. As saurik said, he is not a millionaire, but he makes enough. Some of the users here, dont make lots of money dont have credit cards or paypal account. The idea of cydia is to be free. I understand and recommend if you donate the money, which I already did many times.

      • http://twitter.com/oneBurge Burge

        So you’ve spent well over 1000$ on your iPhone and you get the keep them tweaks for next iPhone ..so what’s the problem with at lest 50c to use cydia for a year .. It could help keep it going and you can still use your tweaks… What would happen is Cydia for what ever resin shut down because of running costs .. You will never have those tweaks again to use.. All payment records are stored by Cydia and you get it for as long as Cydia keeps going.. So what’s the problem with 50c /1$

      • http://twitter.com/redevil1987 Damian W

        sure 50 cent or 1 buck is nothing, but i said it already. well for now we know Cydia is not closing and if you want to prevent from this to happen then donate as much as you want. Thats why I try to buy tweaks and donate, to support cydia going. However, I also like the idea of Cydia being completely free. If Cydia ever requires payment for simple browsing, then I bet we will all sometimes run into technical issues.

      • http://twitter.com/kNoXLegion kNoX Legion

        The problem is PayPal! If you send someone 50ct he gets nothing…

      • http://twitter.com/kielwallace Kiel Wallace

        who the fuck cares what you want. what have you contributed?

        a grand don’t come for free

      • http://twitter.com/redevil1987 Damian W

        people who spent tons of money care and who don’t have it. What have you contributed beside insulting and dumbness?

    • http://adam.hbang.ws/ Adam D

      Cydia wouldn’t ever be (legitimately) sold for any price, simply because saurik wants the jailbroken iOS platform to stay open source. Even if he did do this, keep in mind that there will still be older (and most likely even pirated) Cydia debs floating around, plus anyone who has a copy of the open source code could start duplicating features added to the paid Cydia and distribute it for free.

      • http://twitter.com/oneBurge Burge

        Don’t for get Cydia keeps you shsh’s on file . I bet that Saurik could come up with a way that checks that your device has paid.. After all it knows what device has what Shsh.. It even knows your 40 digit … Carn’t think what it’s called… Think it’s UUID ..
        Bottom of Cydia , first page

      • http://adam.hbang.ws/ Adam D

        Not sure about the UDID, but the ECID (exclusive chip ID) is definitely used. It’s sent with iTunes’ SHSH check so he uses this to determine the device.

      • http://twitter.com/oneBurge Burge

        Sorry couldn’t think what it was called… (It was a long night)

  • Estapleto

    Look at that man’s face: he is a GOD

  • http://twitter.com/kriss631 Kriss Zavala

    He deserves a vacation.. I really wouldn’t mind paying a one time year fee.. I mean 4.99 a year is not bad plus he deserve it. A new car, improve his house, or simple anything lol

    • notewar

      …like a Gillette Razor

  • Imahottguy

    What’s sad is that there are so many members of the jailbreak community that understand that this is not a get rich quick scheme, and that most developers are coding on the side in addition to full time work, but we hardly hear from them. Instead we get these “I know everything ever ever” teens (and young adults) that believe that everything should be handed to them freely, and that when you pay $0.99 for a tweak there should be nightly builds pushed to them, forever. Unfortunately, these folks seem to be some of the only voices that are heard by developers and other important people in the jailbreak world. I hope they (the devs) know that even though there are a bunch of pirates and general jerks out there, there are also people that deeply respect what these people do, and understand that there are other things in this world, like work and family that take priority. What if one day Saurik awakes to another rant and decides to stop supporting Cydia, MS and Winterboard? Perhaps another soul would continue the work, but who knows? Perhaps we should all be a little more understanding, and dare I say, grateful?

    • dracoslife

      Indeed! Tired of the jerks of the community ….truly these people are treated like dogs of the tech world when they deserve to be treated like kings for all their love for this community !!

  • seyss

    Appstore breaks even? right

    • http://www.idownloadblog.com Sebastien

      That’s correct. Apple doesn’t make any money from the App Store

      • seyss

        What data supports that? Apple made 1.5 BILLION dollars (30% of 5bn) from the Appstore as announced in the latest keynote. This is fact.. Are you saying it costed them more than 1.5bn to run the appstore?

      • http://twitter.com/kielwallace Kiel Wallace

        revenue and profit are vastly different

      • http://twitter.com/melovestoast Jared Floyd

        I thought they got a portion of all apps sold?

  • http://youtube.com/MathiasVerden Mathias Lindberg

    What I want Mac Hack Store to be is actually just like the Mac App Store, but with other things than apps, just like Cydia. I’m talking OSX themes and other changes to the Operating System’s appearance and functions. Maybe extend Spotlight, perhaps a tweak that allows you to auto-hide the menu bar, that kind of things. Paid or not, it’s what I’d like.

    • Aleksander Azizi

      Good for you, go ahed, buy a book on OS X programming and i’ll talk with you in a year or two ;)

  • http://twitter.com/myorangeisstuck willie

    It is almost impossible for cydia for mac. Before he releases it, apple comes up with another new OS X

    • http://adam.hbang.ws/ Adam D

      That wouldn’t be a problem

  • http://twitter.com/klouud Timothy Polumbo

    I really don’t think there is a point for Cydia for Mac at this time. Until Apple completely walls off its operating system, Cydia is a waste of time for OSX. As a heavy Leopard, Snow Leopard, Lion, and Mountain Lion modder, I can safely say that OSX is very easily manipulated.

    • Tr1pTr0p

      A heavy modder, you say? Can you tell me how to change the cursor? It’s frustrating, and I can’t find a single useful tutorial about it…

  • Ronald Weaver

    Thank you Saurik for all your kind efforts on your behalf. I hope that mindless jackass feels stupid after your explanation!

  • http://twitter.com/Rirath Rirath

    I know I’ve seen Saurik around here a time or two so, if you happen to drop by let me echo a few others: Good on you, and thank you.

    Even if it’s not much, it’s awesome reading what (a small percentage of) my purchases are helping to fund.

  • GambitGamer

    It really stinks that someone can work on something really hard and not even get paid for it. I think if he fixes up the Cydia store and makes the paid tweaks/apps un-crackible then he could get some profit. I think there is a lot of potential for Cydia. I’d like to see it grow even if it means I might not be able to get all the stuff for free.

  • http://twitter.com/Pitchy Pitchy

    Wonder how much he makes off of ads? Cydia has tons of them. I have probably spent close to $40 or 50 on paid apps in Cydia so I hope I have at least somewhat helped him out.

    • iky1e

      The ads are in the repo’s pages for app descriptions. Cydia itself doesn’t have any. They are how the repos pay to keep themselves going.

      • http://twitter.com/Pitchy Pitchy

        That makes sense… thanks for clearing that up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=557279411 Brandon XIao K

    ppl wont appreciate wat u have done, ppl will only curious wat u going to do, stay focus Saurik, one day the community will realize your effort.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jude-Palermo/100002164977772 Jude Palermo

    All i have to say is i PAY for everything i ever got from cydia. I hate PIRACY

  • santiago

    can saurik make a cydia for 5.1.1

  • Lay

    Hi

    • Bob

      hey