The Rise of the iPhone in China
The iPhone has grown in popularity throughout the world. One particularly notable region where iOS has seen rapid growth is in China. Just this year, the iPhone’s growth in the Greater China area during the first quarter of 2011 shot up by nearly 250 percent year-over-year. We also learned that China has become the second largest iPhone App market, second only to the US.
The US Military Adopts Android and iPhone Apps
Meanwhile the US military has been using apps for iPhone and Android for everything from Patriot Missile training to letting soldiers blog from their iPhone. The military has been adopting iPhones and iPads because the cost of developing new technology is greatly reduced. All that’s left to do is create useful software.
Furthermore, government employees in the US have been moving to iOS and Android from the previously popular BlackBerry OS. While BlackBerry is still the official OS for government, they have taken notice of peoples rapid adoption of the other two OSes.
China Keeps Up
China can’t let the US military be the only one who’s iPhone savvy. Countries like to be ahead of the curve in just about every aspect, and when it comes to technology, it seems even more the case. They are also making a move to adopt the iPhone for military use, but use of their app requires a jailbreak.
While most of the US’ iPhone apps are designed for more direct military use, China is going about it a bit differently. The app is designed to create transparency in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the world’s largest military force.
China’s Defense Ministry has often been secretive in the past, and actually launched a website in 2009 in hopes of reducing overseas criticism. Much of this was reportedly because they had the world’s largest budget spending, and this caused concern in neighboring countries and in the US over what that spending was going into.
Now the PLA is going to be releasing news and information through their official iPhone jailbreak application, and as a Defense Ministry Spokesperson said to the South China Morning Post in a recent report this application is developers “to answer domestic and overseas criticism of the military’s lack of transparency.”
Of course, that’s what they said in 2009, too.
What is it Exactly?
The app is really nothing more than an official news site controlled by China’s Defense Ministry designed to inform readers, both domestic and overseas, about what is going on within the Chinese Military. More than anything, it’s an attempt to curb criticism of their lack of transparency. The problem with that, may be that it’s not something readily available on just any iPhone. Users won’t be able to pick up an iPhone and download the app from the App Store.
The App Requires a Jailbreak
The app isn’t going to be an official App Store app. Not here or in China. Users must jailbreak (install software that allows for use of the iPhone that was not intended by Apple) their iPhone if they want to read up on what the PLA is doing. They will receive news and updates direct from the PLA Daily.
It’s interesting that the iPhone must be jailbroken in order to use the app. Usually, jailbreak apps are made by single independent users who want to add a certain functionalities not included in their iPhone. Larger, public organizations have always stuck to official app store releases. Did Apple reject the app?
iPhones and the Military
It’s interesting to see iPhones and iPads being adopted for this kind of use. While the US tends to use it more for direct military operations, China is going to use it to share and control information.
Just remember, don’t update your firmware until you know a jailbreak is available. Otherwise, you won’t know what the PLA is doing.