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The realities of running Cydia, the jailbreak app store

How profitable is Cydia, the jailbreak app store, and what happened to the Mac version of Cydia? Jay Freeman (Saurik), the founder of Cydia, recently provided some answers. The explanations were prompted by disgruntled users venting over Cydia's lack of updates and the whereabouts of a Mac version, and ended up as a mini-interview of sorts. In response to claims that Saurik keeps 30% of every app sold in Cydia, like Apple does with the App Store, Saurik provided details on where a large portion of that 30% actually goes. From the ModMyi thread:

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.

The difference between revenue and profit (revenue minus expenses) seems often to get confused, not only with regards to Saurik but Apple as well. Just like Apple's App Store and Android's Google Play, Cydia costs money to run, and a huge amount, if not all of the revenue generated from them go into bandwidth, hosting, transaction costs, and everything else that goes along with running such a large online store.

Saurik also explained -- again -- why the Mac version of Cydia was never released, and what happened with efforts to create a Mac substrate.

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".

Saurik also talked about the Rock acquisition, Winterboard vs Dreamboard, and a few other interesting topics.

Source: ModMyi via iDB

iMore senior editor from 2011 to 2015.

  • nice article. i jailbreak, for a few tweaks i can live without. And will likely livewithout when ios 6 comes out. But coming from webos and preware where i don't even know if anything is charged for i simply refuse to pay for tweaks. I'm not saying they have no right to charge. Hey charge what people will pay. But for me its simply a case of there's nothing worth paying for.
  • Thanks to an article by Allyson, I jailbroke my iPad 2 this week. I wanted to use a mouse to go along with my keyboard. BTStack for my mouse was free, but had to pay 5 bucks to use BTStack keyboard so I could have them both running at the same time. It was worth it to me, although I have no idea why mouse support isn't available in the first place.
  • i didn't mean to imply that my opinion is the only one or that nobody finds the tweaks worth paying for. Simply that i do not. but i'm glad you found what you wanted.
  • With stuff like Sky Go restricting their app for non-jailbroke phones, my decision is made for me.
  • There was one Jailbreak tweak/app I was interested in that was payware, but downloadable for free. Turns out to that to use it, I had to go outside of Cydia to do so, so I deleted it instead. I do not know now what the thing was. Now, I'm even more glad with my decision to not use that app after all. If the developer is going to use a distribution channel for hosting and charge for the product, then the hosting service should get their share of the revenue.