Apple begins taking down sites that sell UDID activations

By , Jul 8, 2012

Apple has begun cracking down on unofficial sites that sell UDID activations to folks who aren’t registered Apple developers, letting them download and install iOS and OS X betas on their devices, a strict violation of Apple’s agreement with developers.

In fact, a developer’s $99 a year membership in the iOS Developer Program can be terminated if pre-release software is provided to non-authorized folks. Apple isn’t just revoking access to developers that sell UDIDs, it’s now going after sites that advertise UDID activations, filing DMCA requests to hosting firms.

As you can imagine, financial incentives outweigh risks and punishment involved. Savvy “entrepreneurs” have found the business of selling unauthorized access to iOS betas worth tens of thousands of dollars. You don’t need an office, staff, a telephone line or even a business name – just a small upfront investment, a web page advertising your “service” and spare time on your hands to get the word out…

MacStories editor Federico Viticci reached out to a bunch of sites that used to sell UDID activations, such as activatemyios.com, iosudidregistrations.com, activatemyudid.com, udidregistration.com and instantudidactivation.com, all infringing on Apple’s developer agreement.

Here’s what he found out:

While most of our emails bounced, we heard back from one of the site owners (who asked to remain anonymous), who confirmed his hosting provider took down the site after a complaint for copyright infringement by Apple.

Similarly, the CEO of Fused tweeted in a reply to Andy Baio that Apple had been “fairly heavy-handed” with DMCA requests to UDID-selling sites hosted on their network.

It’s a bit of a surprise then that the most popular site, udidactivation.com, was still doing business at post time.

Andy Baio is the author of an interesting Wired piece which exposed the underground world of selling access to Apple’s beta software to non-developers. With device activations lasting only a year and prices in the range of ten bucks per device, these sites turn eyebrow-raising profit, Baio explained:

For a small developer, unauthorized activations are a lucrative business that’s likely worth the risks. UDID Activation publishes their order queue on their official site, which shows more than 2,300 devices activated in the last week alone.

At $8.99 for each activation, that’s more than $20,600 in revenue, with $2,277 paid to Apple for the 23 developer accounts.

One site MacStories’ Viticci contacted has activated a whopping 19,000 unauthorized devices so far. Another guy told Viticci that their website made $75,000 since last June, when Apple released the first beta of iOS 6 to developers.

You must have noticed how Apple-focused sites’ comments (iDB’s, unfortunately, included) often gets trolled with shady accounts that advertise UDID “services”. And who could blame them: a bunch of people are eager to get their hands on software they’ve been reading about in news reports so clearly the market exists and demand is high.

If you paid for an UDID activation in order to test-drive iOS 6 betas, we’d love to hear about your experience down in the comments.

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  • http://twitter.com/Steeeeeeeeeeezy Domenico Michael

    Who cares.

    • http://twitter.com/iKrill Antonio Santos

      LOL xD

      • http://youtube.com/MathiasVerden Mathias Lindberg

        Obviously he doesn’t, lol.

  • selcukcura

    I dont understand why people pay for betas, they should just wait for the final, stable version.

    • HouseOfHouse

      People want things right now and they will pay and take risks to get it.

    • http://www.youtube.com/Tr1pTr0p Tr1pTr0p

      Developers? They pay so they could publish compatibility updates to their applications on time for the release of the stable version.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Staff-Void/100001584076972 Staff Void

        We already have beta access, so that’s not it :D

    • http://twitter.com/redevil1987 Damian W

      i paid because I was very curious how everything changed and I did not want to wait 4 months. Unfortunately, I removed IOS 6 after one hour of using it and wend back to the sweet jailbreak tweaks.

    • Miguel Meza

      $5.00 for access to betas not a big deal for me

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1595420643 Simche Apple Konstantinovic

    I personally think, that beta stuff are for developers only, because they can In this case, adapt their apps to the upcoming update, iOS 6. It’s just not worth it for the extra features, I mean, sooner or later, They’ll release a iOS 6 GM in fall…
    And if you want more function in iOS 5, jailbreak… simple :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000497451387 Daniel Bohlsen

      I agree with u

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002183168819 Dylan Laws

      That’s why they’re released as betas ;) That and I think it also eases up on Apple’s back to find bugs. If 250 people at Apple are hired to find bugs, it’s productive, but if registered developers find them and report them (there’s a lot of developers) it would/is be more productive and faster to release of the new OS version

  • http://youtube.com/MathiasVerden Mathias Lindberg

    Apple should make a Chevron Labs kinda thing. Where people can buy a UDID registration from them for a couple of bucks. A lot of game developers allow people to Beta test, so I think apple should add a very simple way to restore if something goes wrong and guide people through it for those who actually wanna help them find bugs and such, they could add a bug-reporting features somewhere very highlighted in iOS.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Staff-Void/100001584076972 Staff Void

      Too much hassle, they already have hundreds of in site testers, and tens of thousands developer testing it.
      That is already too much data to process, to include unskilled users in the process would be foolhardy, at the least…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1849765376 Jordan Rushing

    I can understand completely why Apple did this. Apple is losing money because of this, and clearly they’re cracking down on these sites because the sites are profiting off Apple’s iOS beta. But of course, if you read the article you already know this. I hope Apple gets what it wants. Better yet, get what it deserves.

    • JaeM1llz

      Apple is not losing any money. In fact they are making money that they otherwise would not have made. The people selling the slots have to purchase developer accounts in order to register the UDIDs and they wouldn’t have made those sales if it wasn’t for these people. They just don’t want them profiting from the iOS6 software that will eventually be free for everyone with a supported device.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1849765376 Jordan Rushing

        After thoroughly examining all the evidence, I will admit, I was wrong in ways. However, you said it yourself:

        “They just don’t want them profiting from the iOS6 software that will eventually be free for everyone with a supported device.”

        So clearly someone is making a profit and Apple doesn’t want that. And to be honest with you, there’s more than one way to get an iOS beta. UDID, or UDON’T, someone will get around and find a way to profit either way.

      • http://twitter.com/StraussKahnn Strauss Kahn

        I’m going to agree with you here, there’s more than one way to skin a cat, and if someone finds a way to do it, they’re going to try and make a quick buck. And it won’t be Apple’s buck to have.

    • http://www.facebook.com/brandonecarr Brandon Carr

      They’re losing money on such a small scale, that it doesn’t even matter. $75,000 is their biggest loss here. They make that in less than a minute with all of their stores. That’s called greed, and it’s ugly.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1849765376 Jordan Rushing

        But it’s Apple we’re talking about. Even if it’s a small amount, I’m sure Apple is pissed off. They get pissed at everything that causes them to lose money. Look at all the lawsuits stifling innovation…

  • http://twitter.com/jake1047s jacob wolin

    I bought a slot and it still works perfectly I’ve used it for 2 years

  • http://twitter.com/sud0plex sud0plex

    I knew that this will happen..

  • Marty Cunnane

    I got my udid registered and love it but am using 5.1.1 because i men afraid apple will release 5.1.2 or something and wont get to have a jailbreak

  • ricky_nguyen

    I honestly think people should wait for the final and more stable version of iOS 6 instead of installing each beta version that they end up releasing since you may end up with a bricked and useless iOS device

    • Marty Cunnane

      I dont think anyone has ever bricked their phone by installing a beta

    • Miguel Meza

      shouldn’t it be a persons choice?

  • Roy Spear

    I have iOS 6 beta 2 on my iPhone 4s, factory unlocked. I did not need udids. I was able to upload .Should I get it back to 5.1.1? What are the risks of leaving iOS 6 and just keep updating thru the betas Over the air

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Staff-Void/100001584076972 Staff Void

      None, except for contact data etc, if some major bug was found. But You should have iTunes backup, so again, none…

  • http://twitter.com/AdamN1997 Adam Nellessen

    I did both my iPhone 4s and my iPad 2 with one of the mentioned sites this last month. Just like last year, I wanted the latest iOS plain and simple. Last year (iOS 5 beta) was great for my iPad 2 and iPhone 4! It was the best of both worlds, the latest iOS and there was already a jailbreak.

    • http://twitter.com/AdamN1997 Adam Nellessen

      … and I don’t think its wrong. I get to try out the latest iOS, Apple sells many more Dev accounts, and the website I purchase from makes some money off of me. I take all of the risks using the beta on my regular phone and Ipad but the betas have been pretty stable. Everyone wins.

  • Miguel Meza

    should be a user choice that simple same as users choice to jailbreak or not

  • photons

    99$ is to expensive… I have just started experimenting with developing applications… I do not want to pay apple that much for a crazy phase of mine… is there a legal alternative way to do this…I am a rookie :) Rookie + 99$ = disaster on monthly budget planing.

    • Roy Spear

      If you want ios

    • Roy Spear

      If you want iOS 6 you can get without paying. I have it already. Let me know if you need it

  • http://www.facebook.com/luis.rivera.1460693 Luis Rivera

    Ok fine

  • iNfAMOUS70702

    you dont even need to buy a UDID to get iOS 6…i prefer being jailbroken anyway