Founder of Cydia, the jailbroken iOS app store, files suit against Apple for anti-competitive behavior
Jay Freeman, known by his developer nickname saurik, filed suit against Apple on Thursday. Freeman, who developed the Cydia App Store, claims that Apple has engaged in monopolistic practices to eliminate competition and take advantage of app developers.
Cydia rose to popularity in the early days of the iPhone as an app repository available to users that jailbroke their iPhone. Cydia was developed and distributed prior to the launch of Apple’s proprietary iOS App Store, causing many to dub it the “App Store before there was an App Store” or “the First App Store.”
The lawsuit alleges that Apple “has wielded the power the App Store gives it over iOS app distribution ruthlessly, and in a way that has not only drawn substantial outcry from the app developer community, but also deep scrutiny from governments and regulators worldwide.”
Additionally, Freeman’s suit claims that Apple forces a monopoly by “tying the App Store app to iPhone purchases by preinstalling it on all iOS devices and then requiring it as the default method to obtain iOS apps, regardless of user preference for other alternatives; technologically locking down the iPhone to prevent App Store competitors like Cydia from even operating on the device; and imposing contractual terms on users that coerce and prevent them from using App Store competitors.”
The purpose of the lawsuit is to force Apple to allow competing app distribution channels to be installed on or used in iOS without limitation. The suit references both the United States’ and European Union’s regulators' criticisms of Apple’s chokehold on the iOS app market.
Freeman’s lawsuit mirrors the legal battle between Apple and Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite. Epic Games sued Apple this past summer for engaging in what it called “unfair and anticompetitive actions” that reduced its revenue associated with the iOS version of Fortnite. That litigation is ongoing.
The difference with Freeman’s lawsuit is that Cydia stands as a direct competitor to the App Store rather than a victim, as Epic Games portrayed itself. If the court rules in Freeman’s favor, it could easily open the gates for alternative iOS app stores and iOS app distribution methods that have some kind of support from Apple.
There are other methods of installing apps and alternative app stores available on iOS, but these often require workaround methods to circumvent Apple’s “walled garden.” Some examples include installing Cydia by “jailbreaking” an iOS device, which grants a user access to the device’s root file system and skirts around Apple’s stringent security.
What do you think of Cydia’s lawsuit? Do you think the alternative app store has a chance? Let us know in the comments.