Chinese firm finds way to get apps onto iPhone, iPad -- for free

The Web site, known as 7659.com, is taking advantage of a loophole in Apple's bulk enterprise licensing technology to allow users to get pirated apps for free.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger

A firm in China has found a way to get users in China to download applications to their iPhones or iPads without having to pay a dime.

According to Venturebeat, which discovered the exploit, a Chinese "app store" known as 7659.com has taken advantage of a loophole in Apple's bulk enterprise licensing that allows users to download paid applications for free without having to jailbreak their devices, as they would in previous exploits.

Apple's enterprise app distribution platform allows a major company to deploy programs across all corporate devices, as long as they have a developer provisioning profile with Apple. That allows companies to quickly and efficiently get applications to devices without needing to individually download programs to each device.

For 7659, however, the technique has allowed it to essentially deliver an application marketplace to users by simply obtaining the enterprise provision. According to Venturebeat, already 5 million people in China are using the service to access applications. Several popular paid apps are being downloaded at no charge.

For now, access to the service is unavailable outside of China. The company behind 7659, Kuaiyong, has also cautioned users to "not use Apple ID or [Apple's] App Store" to limit the chances of the iPhone maker shutting down their access to programs.

CNET has contacted Apple for comment on the report. We will update this story when we have more information.