It only took Google about three days to recognise, examine and fix the vulnerability that allowed Android phones to be 'jailbroken', and users should see the fix (update RC30) pushed to their phones over the air during the next few days. From the mouth of the Google:
We've been notified of this issue (Jailbreaking of Android) and have developed a fix. We're currently working with our partners to push the fix out and updating the open source code base to reflect these changes.
So what do Android users stand to lose from this Apple-like vigilance?
At present, very little. The so-called 'jailbreak' was of a completely different nature than the app-enabling hack that iPhone users are now so accustomed to. The technique was a telnet trick that allowed for easy root access to the operating system, so the reality of the situation is less like a 'jailbreak' in the iPhone sense, and more like finding the administrative password on a desktop Linux system.
The exploit did provide more access to the the Android's core functions, some of which could be useful for app development and porting to other phones, but it also exposed a gaping vulnerability that would be immediately shut on any other Linux distribution. Google's patch is most accurately characterised as a security fix, not a party poop. [ModMyGphone, XDA —Thanks, Kyle]