China Unicom Offers In-store iPhone, iPad Jailbreaking

| News

China Unicom is offering a unique service to its iPhone and iPad customers: In-store jailbreaking. The cell service provider is offering to hack user’s devices so they can install unauthorized third-party apps, as well as trim SIM cards to fit the iPhone 4 and iPad microSIM tray, according to (translation).

Jailbreaking is the process of hacking an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch so apps that aren’t available through Apple’s App Store can be installed.

Apparently many China Unicom stores are displaying posters offering to jailbreak iPhones and install several apps at the same time. Since jailbreak tools aren’t available for iOS 4.0.2, however, the company is probably offering to hack older iPhone models.

The iPhone 4 is set to officially go on sale in China in mid September.

Apple hasn’t commented yet on China Unicom’s jailbreaking service.

[Thanks to M.I.C. gadget for the heads up.]

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The response should be priceless.

Lee Dronick

The response should be priceless.

Unfortunately there probably isn’t much Apple can do about it.


Unfortunately there probably isn?t much Apple can do about it.


OTC, this is great news!  This is great for everyone who cares about Apple iOS device development, Apple business success, and Apple customers. 

The iOS platform still can enjoy the enormous & vital benefit from Apple’s tight control of the its Whole (iStore/iDevice) Widget IN AMERICA.  But because it is thus now also free (from the constraining requirements of Risk Management & Customer Service depts. of domestic Apple markets) to foster the jailbroken/opened iOS device’s development elsewhere in the geekosphere, which both the platform & its users need and deserve, much greater platform development is possible than was previously when its WholeWidget policy needed Apple to stay at war with its frustrated geeks & corporate IT customers.

Lee Dronick

Yes, unfortunately


Well, it is not clear what Apple can do.  Some of it will depend on the contractual agreements between Apple and China Unicom.  But contracts in China may only be a good as China’s courts, which dispense a dubious quality of justice at best.  Perhaps, Apple could sue here, but unless China Unicom has substantial assets in U.S. territory that would be a vain thing, unless a Chinese court would enforce a U.S. judgment, which I doubt.  The position of the Chinese government will determine a lot, but that is a collection of corruption and national interests that is hard to determine and even harder to navigate, and China Unicom, prior to making this move, has already paid who it needed to pay in China’s government.  And, of course, there is the nuclear weapon of Apple abandoning the Chinese market, at least for its iOS devices and perhaps for all its products and services.

I see why Apple goes through general counsels at the rate of about one every two years.  Dealing with the foreign and domestic legal challenges that Apple faces will age a lawyer.


My prediction
In a couple of years there will be a huge malware attack that will bring iPhones in China to their knees because it will only impact jailbroken iPhones and China will have a critical mass of ‘broken iPhones. When questioned about it Apple’s response should be “You chose to take the risk, you are on your own, you’re SOL.”


Yes, unfortunately

I sincerely admit I must be just too fundamentally ignorant about this question and/or too dense to see any ways at all which this development can potentially harm any of Apple’s interests, anywhere.  I would truly appreciate an explanation to help me see what I haven’t been able to from where I look at this.

Lee Dronick

I would truly appreciate an explanation too help me see what I haven?t been able to from where I look at this.

See Geoduck’s comment


Because controlling the widget is bad? Really?

70% of Apple’s apps cost something, leaving only 30% free of charge. Android’s app store is just the opposite with roughly two thirds of its apps available for free and one third paid.

Businesses who only develop applications for Apple products) have gone up 220% just this year from last.

There are 250,000 active apps available through Apple. There are just under 50,000 inactive apps listed as well.

(Android apps just reached 50,000)

“Imagine where we would be right now if the economy hadn’t been code blue all of this time.”

Props to Renee Oricchio at INC for the stats.


BurmaYank said: I would truly appreciate an explanation too help me see what I haven?t been able to from where I look at this.
See Geoduck?s comment

I don’t expect that a

“... huge malware attack that will bring iPhones in China to their knees…”

would likely significantly impede sales of iPhones there any more than such an equally-likely attack on the other open smartphones such as Androids, Symbians, etc., and Apple would in that event have no financial liabilities for the damages associated with attacked jailbroken iPhones there or anywhere else - no more than Google, etc. would.  It looks to me that those losses would be pretty trivial.


“Because controlling the widget is bad? Really?”

I don’t see who you might be asking your question of, here.  Certainly, as I indicated in my first post, I have always been convinced that “The iOS platform ...  enjoy(s) the enormous & vital benefit from Apple?s tight control of the its Whole (iStore/iDevice) Widget…” 

I don’t, however, see why Apple needs to control its Whole Widget anywhere outside of its home base so tightly that it should oppose jailbraking there, wherever it has no potential liabilities for that, such as in China.

Lee Dronick

If, hopefully not when, malware attack brings down unlocked iPhones then the media will probably not report that these are unlocked phones. It will be “Massive computer virus outbreak hits iPhone users in China, are we next?” Sales of iPhones here could suffer.


Aside from the small injury of not selling apps on the App Store, Apple suffers because jail broken i0S devices will inevitably have an inferior experience for users that they will associate with Apple’s devices.  Flash, for example, is terrible on even Android’s Froyo, and it will be terrible on iOS devices in China, but it is Apple that will get the blame.  Losing the ability to provide a high quality experience for the users of its devices is a major problem, because it damages Apple’s reputation for providing devices and apps with a consistent UI and with a just-works and works superbly experience.  It is that experience that distinguishes Apple’s products and services from it competitors, and losing control of it risk reducing iOS devices to the quality of the myriad Android devices, with their infinite number of inconsistent and incompatible UIs, hardware configurations, and apps that work on some devices but not others.  For Apple, that is nothing short of a disaster.


If, hopefully not when, malware attack brings down unlocked iPhones then the media will probably not report that these are unlocked phones. It will be ?Massive computer virus outbreak hits iPhone users in China, are we next?? Sales of iPhones here could suffer.

Granted that iPhone sales there +/- elsewhere would potentially suffer, but suffer significantly? Why?  Especially if:

1. the remedy is always easily at hand: “Restore” the iPhone via iTunes.  That should innoculate against subsequent panic, after the initial panic gets successfully addressed by this.

2. it is no less likely that a headline will also appear saying, ?Massive computer virus outbreak hits Android users in China, are we next?? or ?Massive computer virus outbreak hits Symbian users in China, are we next?? So how is there really any greater relative risk for Apple to have an opened smartphone in the world than for Apple’s competitors, there.  I don’t expect to see any of them ducking and exiting when their mal-hackers hit their marketplaces

3. The benefits of jailbreaking the iOS platform, which Ted Landau has so frequently elucidated (,,, etc.), not only to users but especially also to the iOS platform itself & Apple as well, seem to me to greatly outweigh the likely costs, listed above.


OOps, Nemo very effectively answered my “Why” above, just as I was posting my last one.

Still, because Apple controls the Whole Widget somewhere (namely, in its US home base, at least), unlike any of its competors, Apple can maintain its iOS platform integrity for any users who’d like to stick to the iOS platform’s protocols.  That will continue to raise the unjailbroken iOS device experience above all the rest.


how about a photo to prove the story???


The problem is that Apple gets blamed for the jailbroken as well as the unjailbroken iOS devices.  In Apple v. Psystar, Apple produced volumes of persuasive evidence that it was getting blamed for users’ bad experience with Psystar’s counterfeit Macs. 

It is easy to forget on forums like this, where the interlocutors are often sophisticated in technology, that most of Apple customers aren’t so sophisticated.  They see the Apple logo, have a bade experience, and the fault is attributed rightly or wrongly to Apple.  Indeed, after having purchased a Psystar computer, Psystar’s customers first call when they encountered a problem was often to Apple, which had no control over the experience that they were having with their Psystar computers and which had no obligation whatsoever to service their Psystar counterfeits. 

This problem is compounded in China, where prestige consumer purchases are a game of social status, so that a Chinese consumer will buy a counterfeit and proudly display and use it as the real thing and where the typical customer is no more technically sophisticated than here.  Thus, there won’t be two iOS experiences, one jailbroken and one not, but one experience, with Apple taking the blame whenever the quality of that experience is bad.

“Supported Service: Free SIM-trimming, jailbreak, installation of more than 10 hot apps.?  A tempting slogan , if possiblem i should fly to China to purchase my iphone 4. as for as i know , ipad in Hongkong is very popular
now.  China is a bigger market ,  i heared that the High imitation mobile market is very hot in China . i
worried which will affect the sales of iphone 4 and ipad !!?
good luck! Apple! lol ~ but if Chinese puchase a iphone or ipad , i suggest them get a Aneesoft iphone/ipad converter like me~~

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