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Taking a bite out of Apple: Jailbreaking and the confluence of brand loyalty, consumer resistance and the co-creation of value

Michael SW Lee (The University of Auckland Business School, Auckland, New Zealand)
Ian Soon (Jacobs Douwe Egberts, Banbury, UK)

Journal of Product & Brand Management

ISSN: 1061-0421

Article publication date: 17 July 2017




The purpose of this paper is to explore the phenomena of Apple iPhone jailbreaking, a novel scenario where a company actively oppresses and discourages the co-creation of value and customisation of its products by loyal consumers.


This paper conducted a qualitative content and thematic analysis of online jailbreaker discourse to understand the motivations and reasons driving consumers to resist a brand to which they remain extremely loyal.


Three themes explain jailbreaker motivations: enhanced experience, individual right of self-expression and anti-hegemony. Further two themes explain the differing motivations driving hacktivists to create the “exploits” that are subsequently used by jailbreakers (liberating the masses; status and notoriety). Finally, an integrative conceptual model is provided to showcase how disparate theories of consumer behaviour are synthesised during this novel phenomena.


In contrast to previous work, the consumer activists featured in this paper are devoted to the brand and product they are resisting. Rather than switching to an alternative brand, these jailbreakers and hacktivists remain loyal to the product in a genuine effort to help the brand. Even more interesting is the brand actively oppressing these loyal consumers’ attempts to modify and, in some cases, improve their products. Overall, this paper highlights the contradictory relationship between Apple and some of its consumers and demonstrates how brand loyalty, dissatisfaction, resistance/activism and co-creation can co-exist within the same consumer–brand relationship.



Lee, M.S. and Soon, I. (2017), "Taking a bite out of Apple: Jailbreaking and the confluence of brand loyalty, consumer resistance and the co-creation of value", Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 26 No. 4, pp. 351-364.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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