3 reasons why jailbreaking is waning in popularity

By , Dec 6, 2012

It’s no secret — jailbreaking just isn’t as popular as it once was. In fact, in the past 10 days or so, only a couple of jailbreak tweaks have been released that were worth noting.

For such a strong community, we’re beginning to enter unprecedented territory. If you take an in-depth look at the current situation, a few obvious reasons stand out as to why jailbreaking is on a downturn.

Take a look inside, as I’ve compiled 3 reasons as to why jailbreaking is declining in popularity…

Reason #1: The public has moved on to better hardware

This is likely the number one reason why jailbreaking is waning in popularity. The public has moved on to bigger and better things. Two years ago the iPhone 4 was the device to have, but now the 2-year upgrade cycle has passed, and people have traded up for an iPhone 5, or at minimum the iPhone 4S. The interesting thing about those two pieces of hardware is that neither can be jailbroken with the latest iOS 6 firmware. True, the iPhone 4S could be jailbroken on lesser firmware, but if you recently upgraded, then the opportunity to do so has long passed you by.

The iPhone 4 had, and still has one huge advantage over new hardware — the limera1n exploit. This exploit has makes it possible to jailbreak all firmware, even the latest iOS 6.1 beta 3 release. Even if an exploit is discovered for the iPhone 5, chances are it will be quickly patched by Apple as was the case with the iPhone 4S.

The bottom line is this: Cydia developers have less incentive to develop new and useful apps and tweaks than they did two years ago.

Reason #2: Apple has “listened” to its user base

You can label it listening, or you can label it stealing. The fact of the matter is this: Apple has taken some of the most wanted features, features that were at one time only available via a jailbreak, and made them standard on iOS.

A while back we ran an article called Jailbreak Killer, which highlighted Apple’s efforts to kill the jailbreak community by simply making it less necessary and less desirable to jailbreak. They did this by “borrowing” many features like Wi-Fi Sync and Notification Center, just to name a few.

Although there are still a few things on the list that make jailbreaking desirable — SMS Quick reply being one of the main draws — the perception has certainly changed over the last few major iOS releases.

Reason #3: Duplicate features, uninspired developers, and costly tweaks

It’s most likely a side-effect of the first two reasons outlined above, but Cydia has become inundated with overpriced tweaks, half baked apps, and development efforts that steal ideas and duplicate functionality. You just don’t see tweaks and apps like WinterBoard, IntelliScreenX, biteSMS, or Zephyr on a regular basis. Instead, we’re constantly bombarded with tweaks that allow you to respring, or change the screenshot flash color. These tweaks have their place, but they’ve been repeated and regurgitated one too many times.

The outlook

There used to be a time when I honestly had trouble keeping up worth all of the great releases hitting Cydia each day. It was like a never-ending surplus of awesome apps and tweaks. Things have changed since then, but it can be fixed. Reasons #1 and #3 are within the control of the community. If brilliant minds similar to Geohot, Comex, or pod2g rise to the occasion, and Cydia developers follow their lead with awesome and innovative tweaks, then jailbreaking can rebound. Innovative events like JailbreakCon go a long way towards doing just that.

The big question is this: Is reason #2 enough to keep all parties involved satisfied so as to not even bother? What do you think? Please share your thoughts and comments below.

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  • http://twitter.com/IbrahimRIAlBora Ibrahim R.I.AlBoraey

    if Apple brings Zephyr, NCSettings, and Gmate instaling I may consider live without jailbreaking, in fact, if Apple fixed the AssistiveTouch bug, I might give up jailbreak, it occupy storage, and increases “others usage” of the storage.

  • Guest

    I hace galaxy s3.. When jailbreak is out forma iphone 5 im gonna buy it
    Iphone without jailbreak = sh**

  • Singh

    I’m a iphone user from last 4 years and still using it I had iphone first than 3GS ,iphone4 ,4S and now iphone 5 . I love jailbreaking my iphone and use all the tweaks but from last iOS 6 update Its not possible that S*##.

  • Thorasgard

    iMessage is a major reason for me. Jailbreak was needed to integrate google voice with SMS/bitesms. That saves me $15 a month.

    With iMessage I never get near my 200/month SMS limit for $5 on AT&T.

    Could not stomach having to use two apps for SMS.

  • f1ght3r

    Sorry Jeff but you’re wrong. Every person that used to jailbreak is still waiting for a new jailbreak for the iPhone 5/ iPad G4 and mini. Once this is achieved, developers will begin work on new tweaks to take advantage of the new hardware. I know people who have put off buying an iPhone 5 just because they love their jailbreak so much.

  • Jeff

    Guys, just to clarify: in no way am I speaking out against jailbreaking. I love it, and I will jailbreak as soon as it’s available. But the BUZZ/POPULARITY of jailbreaking has undoubtedly tapered off. Don’t you agree? And this is due to the factors listed. Will it rebound? It’s very possible. You’re arguing against me, when we essentially agree on the same thing. Jailbreaking is less popular now, because it’s not available. You’re arguing against me when we both essentially agree. You’re taking my post and making it into something it’s not. :) Just wanted to clarify that.

    • JoeCoxon

      I totally agree, i think some people get a little too defensive of jailbreaking and apple in general, we all love it, but sometimes you have to see the reality. And the reality is that the scene just isn’t a buzzing as it has been in the past, even compared to last year when there was no jailbreak for ios 5.

      Admitting that fact doesn’t mean that you want it any less, it’s just the reality of the situation. Fingers crossed that we get some really new innovative tweaks soon to inspire everyone!

    • ReanimationXP

      I really don’t get how this is any sort of statement at all. People don’t talk about things that aren’t happening, and right now, jailbreaks aren’t happening. That in no way means that jailbreaking is less popular.

      This article is akin to saying “well, we finally ran out of gas and now driving is waning in popularity.” No it’s not.. they just can’t drive!

  • MuratPasa

    i want 4s jailbreak but still not have ios 6.0.1 jailbreak i can give money hackers :)

  • http://twitter.com/Rirath Rirath

    Well, to echo many others – the simplest answer is usually correct: “Because there isn’t one”.

    I come here because you guys have the best jailbreak coverage around and some pretty good general Apple coverage to boot. It’s your guys’ site and you can run it as you please, but if you’d like to hear my $0.02 (and since you have comments I’m going to assume you do):

    I don’t really enjoy articles from my favorite jailbreaking blog telling me why it no longer thinks jailbreaking is that popular. (Like many past articles about ‘Why I no longer Jailbreak’.)

    It’s like an Ice Cream blog saying “You know, maybe we should all just try Yogurt. Ice Cream’s really not that popular anymore. Yogurt’s a lot like Ice Cream these days. Or how about some nice Gelato?”

  • Milo

    Unless an untethered jailbreak for iOS 6 is release, if not jailbreaking is seriously losing its popularity as alot people have move on to iPhone 5.

  • shawndollaz

    this is totally and completely false. let the developers come out with a A5 device jailbreak and watch the crazy numbers that it is downloaded

    • JomanJi

      Totaly agree with you. Geez, if I had an iPhone 5, id just stare in front of my computer, waiting for a jailbreak :)

  • Latrese

    In my opinion I think jailbreaking will ALWAYS be relevant because Apple will always be hard headed & never give us what we really want. Even if they added Zephyr and BiteSMS like things,I’d continue to jailbreak just to have OPTIONS. Options is just something apple isn’t gonna give us and honestly it’ll probably be the death of them someday in the future.
    Now on another note,I think apple should be a little kinder to jailbreakers because we as a community are a pretty nice percentage of who by their phones & tablets,& I must say that if that there is no more jailbreaks then I am LEAVING apple and the iPhone for a Windows phone. I decided awhile ago that my perfect phone was a JAILBROKEN iPhone. No jailbreak? No iPhone for me. Nothing about stock iOS is outstanding enough to keep me around.
    But as for this article,your opinion is respected,a little misguided,but I have to respectfully disagree.

  • http://twitter.com/ericstorey ericstorey

    We do desperately want the jailbrake. Look at how many hits your blog gets! That’s us looking for news on the Jailbrake. Observe the downloads when one comes out. And software can “always be hacked” so it’s just a matter of time! One suggestion though! The hackers should have a PayPal donation option to help speed things up. If I can’t Jailbrake my iPhone 5 in the next three months then I will sell her and get a Galaxy III!! Really

  • ghettocowboy

    you missed the most obvious reason: people moved on to android

  • http://twitter.com/ericstorey ericstorey

    We do desperately want the jailbrake. Look at how many hits your blog gets! That’s us looking for news on the Jailbrake. Observe the downloads when one comes out. And software can “always be hacked” so it’s just a matter of time! One suggestion though! The hackers should have a PayPal donation option to help speed things up. If I can’t Jailbrake my iPhone 5 in the next three months then I will sell her and get a Galaxy III!! Really

    • http://twitter.com/Jirakaz Zak Wallace

      Galaxy SIV is set to come out in April, I think…

  • Arihant Jain

    Hi Jeff.. I was always a big fan of your posts.. But this time I don’t agree with you.. Currently, I’ve iphone 4s and ipad 3 both on ios 5.1.1 bcoz they are easily jailbrakable untethered.. The functions, tweaks, themes etc. which cydia can add to the device, apple could not do it in years.. Cydia only makes the iDevices – iDEVICES.. Infact I’m eager to update my device(S) to ios 6.0.1 but only waiting for their untethered jailbreak.. Until I’m happy on 5.1.1 ios.. Thanks.. :)

  • JoeCoxon

    I’ve been unjailbroken for a while now (i have the iphone5) and this is probably the first time in 4 or 5 years that i haven’t missed it TOO much.

    I still miss it, a lot, but i used to be refreshing pages for weeks on end just to find out if there was any new jailbreak news. I’m not like that anymore. I still think we need message quick replies, if i’m watching a video on my ipad and an imessage comes through, i don’t want some big clunky animation completely taking me away from my video and into the messaging app. If i’m replying something like “Yes” that’s just total overkill, and then i have to manually switch back to my video. That’s a very bad user experience for something that is so easily fixed.

    While that’s a massive annoyance, it really is the only vital thing i can think of. More interaction between apps would be great, it’s still too “Sandboxed” for me, but i can’t see apple changing that any time soon. If quick replies were added, i’d still jailbreak, but purely out of habit rather than need. It would just be to see that little cydia icon, and likely more because of nostalgia rather than function.

    With all this said, it’s irrelevant because apple hasn’t added quick reply so i’m still majorly into jailbreaking and i’m still dying for one to come out, but i do feel that the general jailbreak scene is in a bit more of a slump than usual.

    Jailbreaking was always about the excitement of new possibilities though, I feel like it will just take 1 or 2 really special tweaks to get the juices flowing again and then the community will start to thrive like the old days and we’ll see all these new ideas coming out.

    Maybe i’m wrong there, but i can dream!

  • Michal Vigh

    SwipeAway, Accelerate, Activator, SBSettings, Barrel and many more tweaks keep me away from updating to iOS6. The more jailbreak the better iOS experience :)

  • http://twitter.com/jspence444 Spence

    I disagree entirely with this article. I’ve had almost every single iPhone since its inception. But I only started jailbreaking recently (last year). I resisted for a long time because it seemed like a complicated and unfriendly process. But then Absinthe 2.0 came around and I took the leap. It was like a whole new world. There was a fix for everything on my iPhone that I found annoying. I started to realize how old and archaic iOS had become. Jailbreak-only applications like Zephyr, Switchy, Swipeselection, Deck, biteSMS, and many others truly modernize the iOS experience, and I’m happy to pay for them. They are clean, simple, and integrate perfectly with iOS.

    Apple’s iPhone is the best all-around package. Best hardware, largest selection of apps, etc. But the software is getting old and is inefficient for getting things done on my iPhone. The jailbreak world and the jailbreak apps fix that. My only complaint is the bugs of the jailbreaking process itself. I definitely noticed my phone behaving oddly after jailbreaking, and even after un-jailbreaking, unfortunately. But I will still jailbreak my iPhone 5 because it allows for the best overall experience.

    I hope that under Tim Cook’s leadership, Apple will become more open to bringing a new class of apps like Zephyr and the like into the Apple integrated experience.

    • That Guy

      It’s definitely not the best hardware. Samsung’s offerings blow it away. Only LG and Samsung sporting the quad core processors so far.

  • http://twitter.com/MuscleNerd MuscleNerd

    It’s no secret that this post shows just how disconnected @idownloadblog is from the jailbreak community they claim to address.

    This post is designed to merely bring in hits.

    • deepdvd

      Exactly! Great to hear, MuscleNerd. (and btw, you are the best!)

    • skopp888

      Please tell me I’m wrong, and there is not even ONE reference to anything in the post ANYWHERE.

  • http://twitter.com/rawnchi RawnChi KATT

    When one is offered an opportunity to discover that which was once unbeknownst to them, why would they be content to put back on the blinders?

    I have been hearing a lot of people state, not necessarily here or there, on this forum or another, that things are “IMPOSSIBLE”! Apparently, before someone posted the first jailbreak, it was impossible to get inside the iPhone.

    Unless “all” of the developers, hardware, software, firmware, “any”ware, have ALL sold their souls to the all powerful commercial devil, then there will always be a modicum, a trail, a trace hint, an odor of, a glimpse between the clouds, that there is a door available, if one can but find the key to unlock it.

    Maybe, as in Matrix, someone needs to find the “Key Master” to help in locating the trace.

    All I can say is that having Jail-Broken my iPhone 4S, I cannot see giving up the “freedom” of making it as “I” want it to be and not following in the path of the shepherd leading me to the sheep pen of contentment.

    Afterall, we have Samsung, and many others for that, no? And if we allow them, now that the life-source has slipped through theirs fingers, even if the creativity has been passed on, APPLE will also lead us into the contentment of self-immolation.

  • http://twitter.com/juggernaut7865 assassin

    CYDIA will always be welcome on my home screen regardless of any device. Even though apple has developed jailbreaking has it’s benefits.

  • Nick

    I’ve had a JB on my 4S till iOS5.1.1 Then iOS6 came out and I was curious about the performance of which I heard lots of positive stories. So I upgraded to 6 and up till now I never had any regrets. iOS6 runs smoothly and turned my 4S in a new iDevice! That also emphasis the disadvantage of a JB: it makes your iDevice unstable (due to leaking memory issues) and slow! Also every new JB requires new installation of settings.
    But last but not least: lots of guys (and dolls) want a JB to get free (illegal!) apps! No one mentioned this here before, strange…) And since app. the last year it became harder and harder to get your apps free. Sharing sites went down etc. So it’s not worth the wait for illegal apps so therefor lots of people gave up there JB for a faster and better official iOS!

  • vladimir

    never gonna be the same :we need a jailbreaker in side the apple …..

  • iain

    There is still no jailbreak for devices above A4. So…interest in jailbreak apps has declined. If you could untethered jailbreak the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 5 on iOS 6.x, interest in Cydia apps would increase.

  • http://twitter.com/IbrahimRIAlBora Ibrahim R.I.AlBoraey

    I use tethered jailbreak for iOS 6.0.1, and it’s really dangerous to go for a trip without your computer that allows you to reboot, but I’m still on the tethered JB, I’m talking about my self, maybe other people thinks the same, I can take the risk, but limited risk, all of that to go with the tweaks Cydia offers. I’m not perfect, but lots of free teaks are free, some are not. but I’ll be a Big Fan and advertiser for those tweaks for my friends.

  • skopp888

    Where’s the proof to all these assertions?

    • Falk M.

      Needs no proof, it’s an opinion piece.
      But I certainly think he’s right.

      • skopp888

        Perhaps he is, and I honestly hate being so petty. But I hate one thing more than that, and that’s “weasel-wording”. Opinion piece? Believe me I know that but I read the full article carefully -I won’t even go that deep, instead just to the headline: “3 reasons why X IS Y” <– ergo, I disagree with you because from the outset this statement (even if only just this one) does require proof. Or this may as well be an Onion article

  • deepdvd

    Every thought of just posting a poll? Seriously. Looking at your reasons, It’s almost as if you are being paid by Apple to post this. Either that or you are trying to get people fired up and draw site traffic. I realize it’s harder now to jailbreak, but if anything is waning… it’s the number of people trying to find a jailbreak exploit and/or the effort to do so. If there was another easy way to jailbreak iOS6 like jailbreakme.com , the scene would be flooded. It really sounds like you are giving up. Sad.

  • http://www.facebook.com/CynicalDriver Andre Netz

    The jailbreak “buzz” has died off because a lot of users have moved on. There are a number of reasons for this…
    While you read this, keep in mind that I read the entire article and many of the responses. I have owned every iPhone to date with the only two exceptions being the 3Gs and 5. I have also been jailbreaking since the 3G. I agree with this article, but want to expand on their #1 reason: “bigger and better.”

    1) There aren’t any jailbreaks availabe, and most people would rather have a current device. This means less and less people are resisting the urge to upgrade their devices. New iPhone 5 > iPhone 4S on JB (in MOST people’s opinions.)

    2) A lot of people who used to jailbreak have moved on to other devices entirely. I could no longer wait for AT&T to bring 3G to my area, when the competition is offering LTE. Edge is slower than dial-up in my area, and I refuse to be 2 generations behind in tower technology.

    3) Going to Android offers similar functionality now, without HAVING to jailbreak (root.) I now have a Samsung Galaxy SIII 4G, with 4G service, and while there has been some pain in the switch (screen is just too darn big) I do like Android more than iOS. More customization, and more features are better than a camera shutter that is slightly faster… I have a real camera for when flash speeds really matter (Sony NEX-5) and don’t need that on my phone when the quality is still better than the iPhone 4. I also still habe the Google maps app, which I hear is way better than Apple’s new “option.”

    Granted… If my new carrier starts offering an iPhone (they turned it down before due to a lack of LTE support, which means they may pick the iPhone up in the future) I will probably go back to it. Steve Jobs was right… A screen bigger than the iPhone’s is just too big to comfortably use with one hand.

    Written on my SIII.

  • http://twitter.com/Daniel_Kleinber DANIEL KLEINBERG

    The day jailbreaking is no longer available, it will be day I will buy a “not apple” smartphone. I have a iPhone 4S running iOS 5.1.1 and I haven’t still trade it up for an iPhone 5 because there is still no jailbreak available.

  • Greyhound Mom

    Can you please proofread your articles for spelling and grammar? Ugh

  • Derek Brown

    Geohot!!! SAVE US!!!! We know you can do it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Jeron420 Jeron Zimmerman

    You can now jailbreak iOS 6 so sorry man your wrong.

  • charysma

    People just change to other phone…guess which?

  • Guest

    The fact that people are on the lookout for a new jailbreak would imply that it is still very much popular and that (as previously stated) people are simply unable to be ‘excited’ about something that does not exist.

    Another point to make is that people have a tendency to save before the ‘next big thing’ and so Cydia sales have likely dropped off in anticipation for the next jailbreak. This means two things, 1) there is a lot of anticipation obviously; 2) less incentive for developers to create and release for the previous version when sales would be ten fold what they would be now if they wait before creating their concepts.

  • Rob Lucassen

    Folks, we are heading to 1 billion iPhones 5 sold worldwide (China, India, Russia etc.) next year. Apple can not afford to let its OS degrade by a simple hack called a JealBreak exploit. We all now it works, but now and then it does not. Hacks cause hardware to crash and reboot. It is just not in the Apple cards to do any longer. We must look at the CEO to understand its reasons.

  • http://www.geeksonhugs.com/ W. Anthony Tanas

    I’ve rooted some of my Android devices but never any of my iOS devices. I think a reason #4 may be along those lines: people inclined to jailbreak may have become more attracted to a more vibrant techie/hacker community with Android (not to mention lots of Android devices are dead simple to mess with) as well more recently we are seeing some levels of manufacturer support for unlocking/rooting/etc. from nexus branded devices as well as Motorola now assisting users with this on their site (and other manufacturers have followed suit).

    Apple of course is staunchly against this. I find that point ironic considering that Steve Jobs himself got his tech start with Woz in building devices to hack into and defraud international telephone services.

  • http://www.facebook.com/scottcorbettjoinery Scott Corbett

    I have total respect for the jailbreaking community, its a shame theres no way of dowgrading without the shsh, im due a 4s on saturday and im hoping its on 5.1.1, although the blobs cant b retrieved from the 4s and the windows closed so hope it lasts till jailbreaks ready. Cydia rocks!