Piracy is a huge problem in the jailbreak community and here is the evidence to prove it

By , May 7, 2012

I’m not trying to pile on after my post about i0n1c, but my friend and iOS developer Filippo Bigarella just posted some stunning evidence as to how bad piracy is within the community.

Bigarella is the mind behind such tweaks as Springtomize 2 and CleverPin, and he’s clearly one of the most talented and dedicated developers in the community. Hence, it’s sad to learn that his hard work is taken for granted by so many people. His latest tweak, Springtomize 2, has an audacious 92% piracy rate!

And you wonder why people like i0n1c point to the piracy problem within the community?

Everyone knows that piracy is an issue, but I’m not sure anyone but the developers knew the extent of the issue. Out of almost 200,000 installs there is a 92% piracy rate. That’s staggering. It’s shocking, and it’s pretty ridiculous.

Granted there aren’t any numbers yet that show how many pirated users converted to legit versions of the tweak, but even if it’s a decent percentage, it’s still just a drop in the bucket when compared to the total piracy rate.

The sad thing is is that this isn’t an isolated case. The developers of other apps and tweaks such as FullScreen for Safari and LockInfo vouch for Bigarella’s statistics.

The ironic thing about all of this is that people are pirating the work of ones who are a big part of the same community. If they have such little regard for folks on the “same side” so to speak, then how much worse are jailbreakers overall when it comes to App Store piracy? I shudder to think of the numbers.

For the record I know loads of people who don’t pirate, and who legitimately pay for their apps and tweaks. I genuinely enjoy being able to customize my device and I gladly pay for every tweak or app that I don’t happen to receive a review copy of. But folks, as a whole, it’s really hard to argue against these numbers. It’s a shame, and for that reason jailbreaking will always have a black eye.

I know this post isn’t going to change anyone’s moral stance on the issue, but I thought that everyone should be aware of these crazy numbers. I’m not judging anyone in particular, as what you decide to do with your device is your decision. That being said, you can’t hate on folks like i0n1c who call out the community for being the way it is.

What do you think?

Update: Well respected jailbreak developer Ryan Petrich chimed in on the subject this morning with the following statement via Twitter:

That’s something I had considered, but didn’t think would make enough of a difference to make up for the huge margin differentials we’ve seen. Apparently though, this is pretty much the norm, and a lot of developers are used to this activity.

Petrich makes a good point. If the majority of purchasers are those that could not have technically purchased in the first place (overseas, underage, etc), then how much harm was actually done from a fiscal standpoint? It’s really hard to come up with decisive figures, and makes the whole issue a bit more perplexing in my opinion.

The generally consensus that I’ve seen thus far is that piracy comes with the territory. You deal with it, and make the best of the situation, and focus on the next big project.

Thoughts?

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  • Anonymous

    Boohoo people are pirating…cry me a river. How much money has bigarella made from that 8% how come I didn’t see a stat for that?

  • Tryg K

    I first saw installous on a screen shot of a few people showing off themes a year or two ago. I was curious and did a quick google search on it to see what it was. I quickly found that its main use was to install pirated software. There are other uses, sure, but not many. I have a few apps that cost a few bucks, a few that cost a buck and a lot of free tweaks, I donate to people when they have a free app that I cant live without. In all I think I have spent about $50 on Jailbreak apps, tweaks, utilities, themes and such over 3 years. Not a lot of money in the long term but it has all been worth it. I have contacted a few of the makers and they all are helpful and awesome. Pay them, they deserve it.

  • http://twitter.com/JRomero310 JRomero

    Wasn’t Jeff the one on here showing us how to get IceFilms on our Apple Tv’s so we can stream free movies? Then a couple hours later it was mysteriously taken off the site.

    • http://www.youtube.com/myjailbreakmovies/ Jeff Benjamin

      Nope. I don’t think that was me.

  • http://twitter.com/justinetobi Justine Tobi Dayao

    I’m curious what Fabius will say about this. haha.^^

  • http://twitter.com/justinetobi Justine Tobi Dayao

    I see Intelliborn laughing at this. hahaha.

  • http://adam.hbang.ws/ Adam D

    The problem is that the platform (not specifically Cydia, but also every other installer thus far) has been built without much DRM in mind. If it was in there from the start, it simply wouldn’t be possible (if not, as simple) to pirate.

    The high amount of pirates has caused a lot of myths about the jailbreak community. If I had a dollar for every time I show someone one of my jailbroken devices and they asked “so you can get apps for free”…

    Ad@m

  • http://twitter.com/justinetobi Justine Tobi Dayao

    and to be honest at first I download tweaks from unofficial repos but I got tired waiting for them especially when a tweak gets updated, you can’t instantly update your cracked tweak/s. That’s why I buy them now, to get the latest update/s from the developer fast, instant and easy. That’s the one major advantage of buying a tweak. UPDATES. Especially when you use your tweaks everyday like Bitesms, Intelliscreenx, Twitkafly, Zephyr , you really just want the updates coming fast.^^ But on the other hand if you don’t support the dev, he can’t make updates to his tweaks. so it is a lose-lose situation. And some of my bought tweaks like Chatpic (buggy especially when sending text messages) don’t really worth the buy and until now it’s never been updated. So there are Pro’s and Con’s on each side. It is just up to the developer how to keep his tweaks exciting and worth buying. Springtomize 2 is not that really an essential tweak, that’s why most people download it cracked. After a while they find it boring and useless and just uninstall it. If a tweak is an essential one, the demand will be high, then the dev will get money then he will be happy and updates his tweak. :) *cheers

  • http://twitter.com/asafmoraz Asaf Moraz

    I feel great with my self, i am purchasing any thing on Cydia and never downloading it from other unofficial sources. in fact, i don’t have any other sources installed on my Device and believe me, it makes you fell much better and it makes your iDevice works better.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003242081217 Michael Vhan Patrick

    i dont have credit card , so i cant purchase anything from cydia u_u , i dont pirate i only use free tweaks that cover my needs , some of them arent compatible with ios 5.0.1 , but you can still have a nice ones n.n
    -password pilot
    -five icon folder ( its like infinifolders its free)
    -zeppelin
    -coloredknob and others…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003242081217 Michael Vhan Patrick

    i agree with the comments about contact the guys from intelliscreenx to now how to protect their apps , tweaks

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003501536863 Bodrul Jamal

    I think the repos participating in piracy should be blocked by Cydia servers. Its unfair on developers. If there was no jb community, people would have to pay for these tweaks (if they were allowed in the AppStore) anyway. So come on people!! pay for your apps/tweaks/etc.

  • Anonymous

    While I agree that the numbers are an evidence, don’t look into the hard percentages. The fact is, if there is no piracy, I don’t expect all those 200,000 users to pay for it. There are always users who go the legit way, no matter what, and there are always users who wouldn’t like to pay (which means, these can never be considered potential users), but the real problem is with those who are in between. These users may pirate if it is available and pay if there is chance to pirate, but there are also subcategories in these users. Some of them pirate for genuine reasons, just to see if they would really like it or not, and if they feel that the app is worth it, they don’t hesitate to pay. I can also think of another type of users that fall into this middle ground, that would be very pleased with a rental model. If there is a service that would let these users borrow certain number of apps (more like from a library), then they would be really happy with it (good for apps, but not for tweaks).

    BTW, the users that would never have paid for an app are only a problem when their use of the app results also consuming some server side resources, but for a cydia tweak that is client only, I would completely ignore such users. It would be interesting to find out what percentage of users belong to this category. Perhaps a poll on this site with some honest responses will give us an idea. The poll should be about Springtomize asking the user what category they belong to, e.g., “I am a legitimate user”, “I am a pirated user though I could afford to pay”, “I am a pirated user because I can’t afford to pay”, “I am first a pirated user but converted to a legitimate user”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/derfaust.mobile Der Faust

    people just need to quit being so damn cheap…..

    most of the app store/cydia apps and tweaks are friggin’ cheap!…. just pay for it…the cats that write these things are awesome individuals to write the software that they right….so they deserve a few bucks so they can live and polish their software.

    maybe provide a trial period?…..if you uninstall it after a set amount of time, then you are not charged for it…….wont totally fix it, but it may help?….

  • http://twitter.com/NoahKing666 Noah King

    I admit it, i have pirated on several occcaisons, but heres the thing, im 14, i cant legally have a paypal account to pay for the tweaks, or for that matter a credit card for the paypal. I never pirated apps from the appstore, because i had/have a legitimate means of paying for them, idk but maybe we could see some appstore app where in app purchases become cydia ‘credits’ or something, and of course remove iap cracker from cydia

  • http://twitter.com/GXGOW Nicolas Loots

    Just do what I do: Try it then buy it.

    But anyway, what about IntelliScreenX? It’s uncrackable, so why don’t they use the same method all other payed tweaks?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/NNVQIHGPP2XACOBS2OC5EDYOLI Wolfgang Holtz

    Good to know that devs like Filippo Bigarella and others is tracking their customers. This just proves the need of even more skilled hackers that can get rid of these tracking procedures in tweaks and programs.

  • http://twitter.com/TwitPanic TwitPanic for iPhone

    …..

  • http://twitter.com/iHaz3  iHaz3 

    These numbers are very frightening for Cydia developers, and i am sure allot of good developers will stop making Apps/Tweaks/Themes for this community. Thats a sad thing because you can already see this happening in Cydia of the poor quality of tweaks/apps that are being made.

    I don’t look up because of this matter, I develop for Cydia now more then over 2 years and its horrible to see this happening with your products.

    Will it be solved with closing the option to add repo’s on Cydia? No it will not because there are 3th party apps (Lima,Icy) That can take over this issue if Cydia close this option. But it will make Cydia a healthy App.

    Like Cydia should present it selfs….

    It is normal that you have to pay for stuff, I seriously don’t care if it are teens or weens or what ever that cant buy it because of that. This motivates them to get their stuff on a normal way by working for it ~ “Part of normal education” to my opinion.

    I was learned not to steal and pay for the things i want in life. This made me the person i am today….pay for my stuff and developing to earn the money to do that.

    But it seems not everybody has that “gift”

    Daniel aka iHaz3

  • http://twitter.com/ricky_j_89 Ricardo Vega

    I used to pirate apps and I liked it, devs make enough and my few cents make no difference BUT To those of you that still do SHAME ON YOU!!!

  • http://twitter.com/DjMcCracken Carsten S.

    200000 Downloads…8% legal….1,99$ per download = 31840$ twice my yearly income…think about it !

    Piracy is everywhere…Books, Music, Art, Fashion…Everything….

    i don`t know what you`re complaining about !

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alejandro-Maximo-Marez/100000455773490 Alejandro Maximo Marez

    Now, this may be a very unpopular statement, but the only way to stop all this piracy in /this/ community would to take down those sources that enable piracy of the hard work (and difficult, I might add) that these developers have have painstakingly created for us.

  • http://twitter.com/DjMcCracken Carsten S.

    Another statement (this topic don`t let me loose)…

    Android … for Android there are several Markets that only provide cracked Apps…and you even don`t need to “jailbreak” or hack the phone in any way…
    Every (root) Tweak for Android IS FREE !!!!!!! FREE !!! FREE !!!!!!!!

    Are all iOS Devs pus…??? They earn lots of money with kb big software…cool…nice…i`m working 40h a Week and get a kick in the ass….(ok, coding is work too, but hey…not really)

    i just want to say…stop crying ! make more tweaks ! make them effordable ! let pirates be pirates !

    • Anonymous

      I agree with you on everything except when you say “coding is work too, but hey… not really”.

      Whatever line of work you are in, whatever amount of time you spend per week on it, you don’t deserve any respect for it if you don’t respect other people’s work. It’s like saying firefighters are not really working since they play cards all day until there’s an emergency.

  • Anonymous

    I’m saying piracy isn’t right / legal / ethical, but it happens. it happens on iPhones and Android phones, on Mac’s and PC’s, on Xbox 360′s and PS3′s….. it happens. Finding away to discourage is the tough part. Maybe looking at ways other platforms handle it could be insightful. Great article and replies.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=539480065 Leslie Kwan

    If I go to a store, and there’s this expensive product I want to get, but they don’t have a return policy … it doesn’t give me the right to steal from the store just so I can try it out. If I’m underage, it doesn’t give me the right to steal cigarettes. If a store accepts Visa, but I only have Mastercard, it doesn’t give me the right to steal from that store. If I’m hungry and have no cash, it doesn’t give me the right to steal food from the grocery store.

    Nobody is forcing you to pirate. It’s your choice to do so, and you can choose not to do it. You can give your reasons, but just be clear that it doesn’t make it right.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=539480065 Leslie Kwan

    If I go to a store, and there’s this expensive product I want to get, but they don’t have a return policy … it doesn’t give me the right to steal from the store just so I can try it out. If I’m underage, it doesn’t give me the right to steal cigarettes. If a store accepts Visa, but I only have Mastercard, it doesn’t give me the right to steal from that store. If I’m hungry and have no cash, it doesn’t give me the right to steal food from the grocery store.

    Nobody is forcing you to pirate. It’s your choice to do so, and you can choose not to do it. You can give your reasons, but just be clear that it doesn’t make it right.

  • http://twitter.com/appleatw Laura

    hah all bragging abt piracy i know it hurts but i wanna know that

    are tweak developers bigger than the EA and other gaming brands?

    if companies like EA, Ubisoft, Bethesda cant stop piracy than think where you stand.

  • http://profiles.google.com/jacob.noergaard Jacob Nørgaard

    Well, there might be a lot of piracy on jailbroken devices. For sure there is. Heck, I’ve tried out a few myself. Thing is, when you pay like 8-10 dollars for a mobile app, it would be nice with a demo version to check out first, but unfortunately not all apps have that. But trust me when I say that apps and games I like and use/play, I always buy.

    I have bought about 50 apps on Cydia and more than 500 on the appstore in my 4 years of being an iDevice user. Sure, that may not help out the individual developer a lot, but what more can I do?

    Even if there are a lot of pirated versions out there, I’m pretty sure there are still a fair deal of us who bought the software, meaning the developer still made a least some money. Do you really think giving up and abandoning the ones who supported you will help against piracy?

    Do you think it’s better on other platforms? Sure, you could perhaps make more money on AppStore, on non-jailbroken devices. Only thing is… you couldn’t release your tweaks on AppStore. So basically you should just call it quits?

    I remember doing programs in my younger days. You spent hours on a program, sometimes with friends, and you released it into the public domain. You got a kick out of it when you knew people were using it. I’m not saying all software should be free, but part of what makes programming worth it is also the fact that what you made is being used by others.

    In no way do I have problems with paying for even smaller tweaks, as long as they are good. But honestly, there are also lots of software being released that never really gets developed further.

    Filippo is a decent guy. He releases his tweaks for fair prices and continues to develop them even further (even though Springtomize 2 always has caused spontaneous reboots on my iPhone) and I hope we can have him stick around a bit longer. There ARE quite a few of us who DOES support programmers and pay for our software.

  • http://twitter.com/PastorSalad Kyle Peace

    Why do people do bad things? Why do people steal? Take drugs? Hurt others? The same reason people judge others with their own moral standards. Because they can. You me or anyone cannot change the human condition. It’s part of life, you have to grow up and deal with it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Felipe-Lopez/1608523380 Felipe Lopez

    Ahoy!

  • Anonymous

    there’s more than just xsellize though, theiphonespot, sinfuliphone, and other do it too, and there will always be new ones if old ones are blocked

  • http://twitter.com/kemkemJOP ♚☭♞♞☭♚

    Piracy is here to stay deal with it

  • http://twitter.com/Rev0l2ti0n Nick Smith

    Used to pirate Apple apps, but the one thing that turned me away from it was the fact that upgrading it was so tedious, now all my apps are bought or free and I have over 200. I also pay for the Cydia tweaks that I can.

  • s0ulp1xel

    I hope that they out an end to this because I have a few themes on Cydia and no one wants to pay for them, $1.99 come on just pay for it or don’t have it all.

  • http://twitter.com/iPodModifier iPodModifier

    blame The person named Fabius

  • dgatwood

    So wait, this is a jailbreak-only app that patches the guts of the OS in dubious ways? I’m surprised the piracy rate is that *low*. The value of an app is proportional to how much you get out of it. A legitimate app will probably keep working for years, through multiple OS updates. By contrast, glorified Haxies like these will probably break with every minor update, and may or may not continue to be supported. The value proposition is thus much lower, so paying actual money for iOS hacks is dubious at best.

    These apps *might* be worth three bucks if they were using only published API and were available through the official App Store. Maybe. For a jailbreak-only app, you’d have a lot more luck with a price point closer to 10 cents.

  • http://www.facebook.com/TmacALcertified Tyler Mac

    To be completely honest, I’m not going to say I haven’t installed pirated tweaks. And this is simply because I do not want to waste any money on a tweak that isn’t for me. It’s exactly like me crumbling up $1 bills and throwing them in my fireplace. Not worth it. That’s what I do. Not 100% of the time but I do. No one can make me purchase anything, and if I can find it free then why not?

  • Shrey Gupta

    Well, i do use certain pirated tweaks/themes from time to time and that’s only because it’s not possible for me to pay for each and every tweak/theme that i wish to use on my iPhone.

    I live in India and here $1=INR 63, if I have to purchase a tweak which costs around $4, in that case i’ll have to shell out INR 247.70. If we assume that on an average I will install 10-15 different tweaks/themes on my cell each month, that means that i’ll have to shell out close to INR 1000/month (considering all tweaks would cost $1), which is not possible for me.

    Similarly, for BiteSMS, guys in the US will pay $8, but here I had to shell out INR 500 and for iFile I paid INR 250. In short spending 750 bucks for two tweaks is really costly for me.

    Due to this exchange rate issue I am unable to use Flex, purchased that for iOS 6 but now again i’ll have to pay $1.99 and frankly I am unable to spend INR 125 at this moment.

    I might get down-voted for this comment but i shared my story and why it is not possible for me to pay for each and every tweak/theme.

    I did sent out mails to certain developers(FLEX, Forecast) hoping that they might give me a free copy (which is not possible as everyone wants to get paid for their hard-work), I never got any reply from them but i am still waiting and haven’t pirated these two tweaks yet.

    In short, I try my best to avoid using the pirated tweaks/themes but sometimes I do have to use them. If you guys have any suggestions, i would be more than happy to read and implement them. //peace

    • haridsv

      So, your policy is, “buy it if I can afford, and steal it if I can’t”?

  • CAS

    So I want to share my stroy in this old post, I got my first ipod touch 2g when I was 15 years old, I couldn’t pay for tweaks, apps or themes, so I pirate them, I tried to pay apps when I had the money, and beacause here in Mexico is really easy to get an itunes card, I didn’t pay for tweaks not because I didn’t wanted, it was because I couldn’t use a amazon/paypal account.

    Now I’m 20, And I can pay my tweaks and apps, so I can say that not everybody wants to pirate, some people just can’t pay even if they have the money.