No, iPhone jailbreaking still isn’t completely dead but it may have just been put on life support. Earlier reports pointed to Cydia’s shutdown, the most popular app store for jailbroken iPhones, but was clarified to affect only its purchasing system. While it simply means you won’t be able to buy apps there anymore, it could be the start of the end for Cydia. And when the last biggest bastion of iOS jailbreaking goes, so too might the other repositories as well.
Jailbreaking on iOS and rooting on Android has slowly been falling out of fashion due to the increasing features on those mobile platforms as well as the increasing difficulty in finding security holes to exploit. It has been harder on iOS as Apple continues to stay more than a few steps ahead of jailbreakers, hardening each iOS release against such vulnerabilities.
Ironically, one of the reasons Cydia creator Jay Freeman (Saurik) shut down the purchasing system was also because of a security bug in his own store. Instead of waiting for the end of the year, the developer decided to move the schedule up by a few weeks because of the bug. Overall, not only was the service not profitable, it also cost Saurik money and relationships and was just not worth maintaining, even by popular (and not-paying) demand.
Cydia will remain as a repository for jailbroken free apps, though the maintenance of the server still costs Saurik a lot. Jailbroken iPhone owners can still use other sources as well. Only time, and money, will tell how long Cydia’s servers will remain up, though.
While one of the purposes of jailbreaking is to be able to install apps from places other than Apple’s iTunes App Store, there are costs to maintaining such stores that users might be easily taking for granted. Cydia’s case only further demonstrates the rising costs, both technical and financial, in keeping the jailbreaking community alive. And being one of the biggest, one can only imagine the struggles smaller repositories and jailbreakers are going through as well.