Cydia Store Applications vs. The App Store – The Download Showdown

[digg-me]UPDATE: The Cydia Store is now open! I invite you to read this post for more details.

If you didn’t read the title to this article in the deep voice of the movie previews guy, please go back and do so at this time, just to give you an idea of how huge this is. Now, if you’ve navigated to our blog and are reading this article, hopefully you have some idea of what Cydia and the App Store are. For those of you who don’t, I will provide a brief breakdown of each program before I list their stand out features.

Both programs offer a sizeable library of applications and games that can be downloaded directly onto the phone from virtually anywhere you can get a cell phone or wifi signal. Please no hate mail from Installer fans, as it’s obvious it has not garnered near as much support as Cydia since the iPhone was updated in firmware over the summer. But now to the main event, the Download Showdown. Who will take home the title as the Champion of iPhone applications? Let’s get it on.

You’ve seen the commercials, you’ve seen it in the world-reknowned iTunes software, heck you see the icon everytime you look at your iPhone, it’s the App Store. Riding the coat tails of success of Apple’s enormous online music store, is the online application store that has redefined software distribution for the mobile market. Never before has an online library of mobile software been so accessible, as it can be reached from any mac or pc, or from any iPhone or ipod touch with web connection.

Another reason it is so groundbreaking is the 70/30 deal it has made with iPhone platform developers. That means that Apple keeps 30% of the profit from the software sales, and gives the remaining 70% to the people that make them. On top of attracting big name software companies like EA and THQ, this 70/30 deal has made several independent companies like Tappulous and The Blimp Pilots (koi pond creators) extremely wealthy.

The App Store’s main advantages have got to be it’s stability and ease of use, two of the most important things you can find in any software.  I can’t tell you the last time my App Store crashed or froze, and its interface is about as simple as you can get. You’ll also find that most applications fall in the $0.99 – $9.99 price range, keeping purchases from breaking your bank. For the froogle audience, there is also a large FREE section of applications and games that has yet to disappoint me.

Finally, the fact that Apple, is the company behind the App store has its ups and downs. For example, Apple pre screens all apps submitted to the App Store, minimizing malicious code and low quality software epedimics. This also prevents very good software from reaching the App Store due to opinions held by Apple (see R.I.P article). Downloading is also kept very quick and simple by Apple, as typing in your iTunes password, ok’s any download, free or not. You also don’t have to jailbreak or “hack” your iPhone to access the App Store, how charming. So bottom line here is that the App Store is easy to use, extremely reliable, has a huge library of free and non-free applications, and it’s not against AT&T‘s TOS (terms of service) to access.

Now for the challenger. A product of James Freeman, or Saurik, Cydia has been around since the original jailbreaking days of Ziphone and iBrickr. Originally, Cydia stood in the shadow of the Installer application by the Dev Team, which did the exact same thing (offered 3rd party downloads). Now, thanks to its I-got-to-firmware-2.1-before-you-did attitude, Cydia is flourishing.

But these guys [devteam, Saurik, Spazio, etc.] really opened the eyes of the world to the possibilities of the iPhone, and let users unlock their iPhone’s potential with 3rd party applications, a touchy subject in the beginning of the life of the iPhone due to Apple’s lack of 3rd party support.

Enough history, how does it stack up today against the colussal App Store. Size? Nope. The size of Cydia’s library of software doesn’t hold a candle to Apple’s App Store. Price? Nope. While a majority of Cydia downloads are free, some are only trial versions that demand paypal payments to continue using them. So then why in the world would you even want Cydia? Exclusivity. Boom. Cydia is the only place to download applications like Winterboard and Cycorder, software that goes against Apple’s guidelines for App Store approval. I couldn’t have a see-through dock with a customized icon set without Cydia. I couldn’t have recorded a video of my dog doing cart wheels without Cycorder, and it’s only available through Cydia. Is VIP access to cool customizeables enough to make this underdog a Champ? Let’s review.

It seems on paper Apple’s App Store should win by a landslide. Thousands of more software titles, the technical and customer support of a Fortune 500 company, and its overall ease of use should give Apple the belt hands down. But you can’t forget about the little guy. If a firmware update prevented the downloading of Cydia or a similar program, how many users would be devastated? How many would avoid updating? If you’re like me, chances are you have App Store, Cydia, and Installer (at least the first 2) icons sitting on your springboard right now, and aren’t likely to delete any of them any time soon. I like having all 3 for the simple fact that if I read about an application and want to download, I know I am covered, and can find it in one of the 3 libraries.

It looks like a split decision here, but I am going to give the nod to Apple’s App Store for a number of reasons I already listed. Once again in an ideal world we could have a united application that would offer the best of both worlds. For now, it seems the App Store will hold the download Showdown title. Thanks for reading, this article is a treasure, so digg it!