Pirate Explains the Logic Behind iPhone App Piracy

By , Aug 5, 2010

The Administrator for the pirate community Hackulous had some sort of open letter on TorrentFreak a few days ago where he explains why he thinks app piracy is not as bad as you may think. In this long piece, he goes over 4 mains points to convey his idea.

1. Most of the pirates who use our services do so because they simply cannot afford to purchase the applications. One of the prominent members of the Dev Team, planetbeing, described the pirates who use our software as “predominantly in their early teens where money is scarce and time is abundant.”

Since these users have never had any intention or capability to purchase the applications whether or not cracked versions are available, developers of these apps are losing significantly less than what they believe they are to these people.

2. Another portion of our pirates are those who have the capability of purchasing iPhone apps, but not the desire. These pirates typically do not “need” any particular application for free, they just want whatever application that can provide a certain level of entertainment for them.

They are not so much making the choice between purchasing or pirating software A, but rather making the choice between pirating software A or B. So again, the profit lost attributed to this tribe of pirates has been overestimated; these pirates would not have forked over their money anyway, they would just move on.

3. Over three million devices are running our software, Installous, to download and install cracked iPhone apps. The people using these devices are Apple customers who are likely to purchase another device, purchase new Apple products, or refer their friends to Apple. As I have stated before, the people who use our services to trial iPhone applications actually help Apple more than they hurt it.

Why, you ask? If a majority of our three million users are pirates, the value in Apple’s devices is significantly higher: These millions of users, who would otherwise be incapable or unwilling to purchase apps, now have a rich source of entertainment that greatly enhances their experience with their devices.

Apple does not like piracy, but as long as piracy increases the value of jailbroken iPhones, they have no need to be passionate about stopping it. As music has shown Apple and Steve Jobs himself, DRM can always be defeated. Apple is in fact embracing piracy for what it can accomplish for their company.

4. Piracy also helps to expose an application to the masses, much like music piracy helps artists and bands get more publicity. Without cracked app sites like apptrackr, a lot of applications would be left languishing in the pits of the App Store among the rest of the 240,984 apps (at last count) available.

I think these are some valid but very candid points.

What do you think?

[PlanetBeing]

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  • Gamy

    I think hes just saying that to save face…. the first thing everyone told me when I got my Ipod touch was, “you have to jail break it so you can get all the apps for free” I’m sure there are some people that use it to “try” out the apps and then go pay for them…But Im willing to bet that the majority of Installous users never bother to uninstall the app and buy it from the app store.

  • Jayy

    Fuck the free world.(:

    • Ugg Bottes Ugg

      maybe you are right

  • appletiser

    #1’s a bit ironic – “predominantly in their early teens where money is scarce…” so they cant afford to buy apps that are mostly around the 99c mark yet they own devices that cost 100’s of dollars??? LOL imo they have plenty of cash, whether it be their own or via the bank of mommy and daddy :P

  • Bradley

    Did that guy really try to say that the theft isn’t as bad because the person was going to steal either app A or app B.

    That’s like saying a theft of a car wasn’t as bad because the car thief was going to steal either a BMW or steal a Mercedes.

    None of his points are even remotely valid.

  • ery

    I am definitely in the #2 category. I am very unlikely to buy anything from from the AppStore or itunes for that matter. Micro transaction, macro transaction I don’t care, buying soft stuff off the internet doesn’t interest me at all. Maybe I am just old school. If I could buy a CD or DVD of apps at my local store that would be another story entirely I suppose. But whether its ITunes (which I hate) Steam, Impulse or whatever they say is the future, I am not buying.

    Didn’t UBISoft recently change their online store and pretty much told everyone whatever they had previously bought would no longer be available to them?

  • Mike

    Apple definitely needs to fix the app store to allow for trials and I can understand why teens would rather save their money for something else, but once you start earning (decent) money it’s time to grow up and out of it. Internet distribution has made a lot of content cheaper than ever before and there are many applications that are worth our money. I would hate not to have paid for iPeng, Reeder, Podcaster and Carcassonne to name just a few of those. The developers definitely deserve some credit for their work and not phony arguments like “I don’t believe in digital distribution”. Always keep in mind that a lot of them have running costs for support, server and push infrastructure; not to speak of the long-term commitment that many apps enjoy. If you’re into free, there’s always the Android market, but don’t forget that you get what you pay for in many cases.

  • anon

    im the same as you ery.
    people always say “piracy is theft” etc.
    but really it isnt theft to me.
    software has no intrinsic value to it once its been made.

    let me clarify.
    if you have an app/software etc, it can be copied numerous times, while still maintaining the original copy. nothing has been “stolen”; it is merely a copy. how can a copy be theft if the original has not been taken away from the owner? when a car manufacturer produces a car, they make molds and produce a car which will be the basis of all the subsequent productions of that model, no matter how many that may be. each car they make has a value; in the materials used, the usefulness of the product, and the resale value. each car costs the manufacturer money to produce, for the 1st car to the 100,000th car. when the first piece of software is created, subsequent software costs nothing to produce in the case of the appstore. they can sell 100,000,000 apps, and itll cost them no more than the first copy did.

    where people then move on to is the point that the developer or company that produced the software will not get their return on time and operating cost. if they did not gain a profit from their work, they would not be in that business. piracy/copyright infringement/whatever has been going on for decades, yet the industries that are affected are still flourishing.

    to me, software piracy is akin to listening to a street musician. sure you listen for free, but do you always put money into their guitar case?

  • mangina

    @Appletiser: How kids have their parents pay for their desires. It’s called “disposable income” to marketers.

    @Bradley: He built #2 from #1.

  • Mike

    The difference between physical and digital theft is pure semantics: You are causing damage in both cases.

    Keep in mind that a lot of of applications involve costs for support, server and push infrastructure; not to speak of the long-term commitment of many of the developers to enhance them. Subsequent copies and versions of the software in that sense cause very real costs that you disregard by just taking the process of copying itself into account. And even that doesn’t come for free: Neither the hosting nor the bandwidth happened by magic last time I checked.

    Let me quote from a Newsweek article (http://www.newsweek.com/2009/10/05/striking-it-rich-is-there-an-app-for-that.html)

    “Not only have most sellers failed to turn a profit—a fact that is perhaps not surprising given the difficulty of making money in any retail environment these days—even developers with high-ranking games and applications have made far less than commonly thought. Many come nowhere near recouping their investment at all.”

    There you have it. Piracy and copyright infringement has been going on for years and has indeed had a profound effect on the content industry. Ever looked at the games market and wondered where many of the smaller and niche genres have gone?

    No matter how you justify it: Stealing software is theft and you are depriving developers of the means to support their products properly and – god forbid – maybe make a decent living while doing so.

  • Apple everything

    Jailbreaks and apps like this is the reason peeps stick with apple Steve jobs knows this get over it yes iam 1 of that 3 mill who does not pay for apps I would if they were cheaper yes we no there are free apps and 1 pound or dollar apps but these are rubbish keep up the good work apptracker you’d don’t need to justify yourselfs

  • Apple everything

    Apple robs us for the price they charge us for there devices yes apple prods are the best but come 600 pounds for a phone the only reason I keep buying them is cos off jailbreaks and been able to use cydia overwise I would off gone droid

  • http://ottodestruct.com Otto

    I have pirated many apps. I delete like 99% of them within an hour or so. The ones I actually find useful for longer than that, I’ll buy just because you can’t get updates on a pirated app easily.

    There is definitely something to be said for downloading apps in order to test them out. Apps I’ve gotten via Installous have led to several purchases for me.

  • Brian

    I hope companies don’t start pirating wages, “Well we weren’t going to pay you anyway” or “The other hours you worked were just like the first hour, so we’ll just pay you for one”

    Get over yourselves, you wouldn’t walk in a store and steal a videogame off of the shelf because that has real consequences. You do it by other means to avoid those consequences. Grow up and either take the phone back or start buying apps.

  • anon

    stealing a video game off the shelf isnt the same.
    a video game is a tangible product. you can pick it up, feel the packaging, sell it, whatever.

    now they are overpriced too. i mean how much is a blank dvd/bluray? a fraction of the price they sell it to you for. dont forget that they benefit from economies of scale too, so the price of the materials is less than youd pay for a case, dvd etc.

    but again, its a tangible product. in the same way that a car is.
    taking it off of the shelf and taking it home without paying is theft, even if the rrp is massively inflated, it still has a value.

    a file being shared about is 0s and 1s on a server or home pc. it has no tangible qualities. it is just 0s and 1s

  • Vladimir

    Sure it is 0s and 1s but placed in a specific order which delivers a product of great value. Would you say it’s the same if you buy a book from the book store or get a digital copy on your kindle and redistribute it for free? However you look at it using the creative product of somebody else without paying for it is a theft or you might as well borrow your book and go to the copy machine and pay just for the paper…

  • Burge

    But someone has spent there time making a app. Should they not get paid for the app ?
    Of cause they should. And if the app is crap can you u get your money back ? Of cause you should but you carnt. Fuck em , so use what ever means is at you disposal

  • http://clausfrandsen.co.cc Dkdk

    Actually, what he says is quite right.
    I have around 1% of pirated programs, and that amounts to 4 or 5 apps which I would never have bought anyways.
    The same with music: There’s stuff that I collect and spend wast amounts of money on, and then there’s the one-hit-wonders. I would never buy those anyways, so again: No loss for the artist.

  • tbui123

    As far as I know, “Pirate” or “Piracy” is robbing or stealing or reproducing or using someone else property without permission. No what, but, if, and so about it. If one call oneself a pirate or admit that he/she is pirating someone else apps or software, he/she is stealing from the developers.

    It doesn’t matter how much money Apple makes, or the Apps makers make. We made a choice to use the iDevices, there are 100’s other phones, electronic tablets, compters out there, we made a choice to use iDevices, pay for the apps, those people work hard to produce their apps and waht to be compensate for their “inteligence”, if you are (you being those who justify the pirate acts, not the writer of this article) so smart, make your own apps, don’t steal it from someone else hard work.

    So you can’t afford to buy a .99 cents to $4.99 apps (on an average these are the cost of the apps for iDevices), but you can buy an iDevice range from $300 to $1,000 and jailbreak it, unlock it (because you don’t even have a commitment w/AT&T, so you probably pay full price or over the discounted price if you have a signed service comittment), you can spend that type of money, but can not afford to pay for the apps, you have to pirate it. B.S. and shame on you, you are doing it because you like to beat people in the game, you like to steal just admit that you like to steal, or if you are so smart that you can hack into the apps program to get it free, you are doing it to satisfy your ego, don’t say that most young people can not afford to pay for the apps. These “young people probably has 2 or 3 iPhones, an Macbook, an iPad and who knows what else…

    Enjoy your iDevices, be thankful for those developers who offered free Apps out there (there are thousand of free Apps, not just from Apple but from the whole jailbreak community as well). Thanks to all the “brains” who gave us all the software tools to jailbreak and unlock for all the years since iPhone came out (not to mention they gave it to the whole world for free). So when someone create, develop and Apps and want to charge you a measly $.99 for it, pay for it, don’t “pirate” it and claims that you are entitle to it. Stealing $.99 is instead of $199 is still an act of stealing. Imagine you have a five years old son, who started to use computer, and you taught him that stealing software apps is ok, imagine when he is 15, what happens then?…

    If you can’t afforst to buy the apps, sell your iDevice, go get a free Samsung phone (just a sarcastic remark, Samsung makes great phone)… Anyway, I am no body, but I hope I make a sincere point about this…

  • FAIL

    You can’t rob IP. Would you prefer someone to pirate your app worth $0.99 or take something physical say a drink worth $0.99 from you.

  • MK

    Google and Microsoft at least accepted that they have Piracy as an issue and tried their own best. When you compare that with iPhone, Apple is a market leader in Apps and sold more apps than any other apps. Apple never claimed that they have a solid OS not breakable. But as we all aware that PIRACY is a big deal in Apps for iPhone. It’s becoming worse day by day. I am not buying any of those excuses from people who violates and cracks apps. It’s illegal no matter how you try to rationalize.

    I have seen developers spending $650 for advertisement and get very few customers back to buys their apps. But in the same time, they are stranded with App Piracy where they have lost thousands of sales from these pirated app users.

  • Simon

    I wouldn’t buy the djay app. $25 and I’m not even a dj, no way. I pirated it. The dev did not lose out on anything as I wouldn’t have bought it anyway.

    • Anon

      Dumbest answer.

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  • Alston

    I don’t care to admit it. All my apps are from installous. All 50 games. But who cares? Jailbreaking and Installous are legal. So I will use them. If you can get games for free, why buy them? Ask yourself that question and you have an answer and a reason to jailbreak your device. If I were a developer, I wuld develop for fun anyway, not for a profit. Besides, with the count of pirates to customers being 3 to 1 there would’nt be much of a profit anyway. So really, we’re not stealing any amount to be worried about.
    Apples average income per quarter of the year is anywhere from $60 million to $110 million. The estimated amount lost from pirates over apple’s existence of about 3 years is only $10-$20 million.
    So apple makes about $75 million per quarter of the year, and over three years only about $15 million has been lost.
    Stop blaming the pirates.

  • http://www.jeanstruereligionoutlet.net true religion

    If I were a developer, I wuld develop for fun anyway, not for a profit. Besides, with the count of pirates to customers being 3 to 1 there would’nt be much of a profit anyway. So really, we’re not stealing any amount to be worried about.

  • http://www.tiffanyoutlet.net tiffany & co

    Apple never claimed that they have a solid OS not breakable. But as we all aware that PIRACY is a big deal in Apps for iPhone. It’s becoming worse day by day. I am not buying any of those excuses from people who violates and cracks apps.

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    If one call oneself a pirate or admit that he/she is pirating someone else apps or software, he/she is stealing from the developers.

  • http://www.peinturehuilepascher.com peinture à l’huile

    not just from Apple but from the whole jailbreak community as well). Thanks to all the “brains” who gave us all the software tools to jailbreak and unlock for all the years since iPhone came out (not to mention they gave it to the whole world for free).