Lately there has been quite a bit of discussion about iPhone applications piracy. An article on MobileCrunch mentions Beejive, for which apparently 80% of downloads are illegal (aka cracked versions).

I want to share my views with you about this topic but first, I want to make things clear. I do not endorse app piracy (or any type of piracy for that matter). I believe developers deserve to get paid for their hard work. If I was a developer being ripped off, I would most likely complain too.

This being said, if you’re a loyal reader of this blog, you know by now that I don’t care about what the mainstream people do or think. I don’t have to put a face on and pretend to be someone I am not. I am straightforward and say what I think. That’s why you love me or hate me. What I’m going to say here will probably piss some developers off but I’m not here to please everyone…

Crackers Would Not Buy the App Anyway

In my article about the new Install0us last week, iDB reader Polemicist commented on it and basically said that if someone downloads a cracked version of an app, he probably would have never bought it in the first place anyways, so there is no real loss of revenue.

And this is a major point. I assume most people downloading cracked applications are kids. Kids don’t have money. Older people (25 and up) have a bit of money and in most cases don’t mind paying 10 bucks for an app if that means they can download it quickly and don’t have to deal with cumbersome illegal downloads.

Crackers download a cracked version of NBA Live because they don’t have $10 to spend on it in the App Store, not because they don’t want to pay for it. Developers complaining that they are losing potential sales are wrong. If their app wasn’t cracked, kids wouldn’t download it at all.

A Cracked App Downloaded is Better Than No App Downloaded

This can be related to the old marketing saying stating that “there is no bad advertising”, which means that what really matters is having your name out, no matter what people are saying about you.

The same can apply to applications (and illegally downloaded music as well). Someone who illegally downloaded NBA Live wouldn’t have purchased it in the first place, so there is no revenue loss. But more importantly, this guy who installed a cracked version of NBA Live might very well talk about it on Twitter, Facebook, or directly to his friends.

And that is powerful advertising, much more powerful than a good review on TUAW because people will get the word out to their communities, maybe even generating sales from it.

Just like you illegally downloaded the latest Lady Gaga, you’re probably going to talk to your friends about how great the album is (side note: I hate that crap), or how good the video is. Following your recommendation, maybe your friend is going to buy the album and you might even purchase concert tickets to see her live.

And it came full circle. It started with an illegal download, which turned into good old word to mouth, which turned into sales.

Cracked Apps As A Way to Try Applications Out Before Buying Them

This is another part of the comment left by Polemicist:

Personally I have spent more money on Apps because of getting Appz from Installous than I would have under normal circumstances.

Many people report that they download cracked apps because they want to try them out first. Sure there are the “lite” versions and even now the in-app purchase but these don’t give you full access to an application.

I’ve done it before and I’ll probably do it again. I admit that I downloaded cracked apps to try them out. Tweetie was one of them. After paying for a few Twitter apps, I wasn’t satisfied with what I got. I was also pissed I had paid money for some apps that were not good for me. I downloaded a cracked version of Tweetie 1 and after using it for a few days, I bought it in the App Store.

Once again, an illegal download turned into a sale which wouldn’t have occurred if it wasn’t for the cracked version.

I know I’m not the only one out there doing this. I am pretty confident that someone will leave a comment telling me I’m a cheap ass for complaining about $2 applications. These kind of comments are annoying because they miss the point. In these cases, it’s not about money, it’s about value!

This Is No Excuse For Downloading Cracked Apps

I’m obviously not trying to say that downloading cracked applications is ok because it might turn into sales. I’m just trying to say that cracked apps might not be as bad as people want you to believe they are.

What do you think about cracked applications? Do you download them? Would you pay for the app in the first place?

Image: MobileCrunch