Chinese company Taig is rumored to have paid the jailbreak development team known as "evad3rs" $1 million to install its third-party mobile application store for Chinese users.
Soon after "evasi0n" — Â iOS 7's first-ever untethered jailbreak — Â was released, the exploit's Chinese users began reporting that Taig's third-party storefront had replaced stalwart alternative app store Cydia on their devices. Further testing confirmed that any user whose default language was set to Chinese would have the Taig store installed, while those using other languages would still receive Cydia.
Rumors quickly followed that the team had been paid for the switch, with some pegging the amount at $1 million. The evad3rs team includes noted developer pod2g, a French hacker credited with discovering some of iOS's earliest exploits.
The controversy expanded when it was discovered that Taig's storefront played host to a plethora of pirated apps and that the code of the evasi0n application itself was heavily obfuscated, making it difficult for other developers to audit.
In an open letter posted on their website, the syndicate appears to admit that they did receive compensation from Taig:
Yes, we have benefitted financially from our work, just as many others in the jailbreak community have, including tweak developers, repo owners, etc. Any jailbreak from us will always be free to the users but we believe we have a right to be compensated in an ethical way, just as any other developer.
The letter also indicates that, as part of the deal, the team received assurances that Taig's app store would not tolerate software piracy. While the team expressed in the letter that Taig was addressing the issues, pod2g later confirmed that they had stopped offering the store for installation as a result of the problems.
It is not unusual for third-party Chinese app stores to include pirated content. The substantial hosting costs are offset by even more substantial revenues from advertising — Â Baidu, one of China's largest internet companies, paid nearly $2 billion for one such store earlier this year.