I’m not sure what my position about cracked iPhone apps is. I don’t endorse any type of piracy. Developers spend time working on applications and they do deserve to get paid for it. On the other side, you have kids that may or may not have much money and who don’t want to spend $0.99 on an application.
I think that a kid who downloads a pirated app would most likely NOT have paid for this app if the cracked version wasn’t available for free somewhere. This means that either way, the developer would not have earned money from this kid anyway. At least, the developer gets the name of his app out.
What I just described is what we may call “common piracy”. That’s the type or piracy we’ve known since the democratization of MP3 music files. Now there is another kind of piracy that I think is scandalous and should be highly punished by law… I’m talking about website that resell cracked iPhone apps.
I was browsing several iPhone blogs over the weekend when I came across a website called Mega. The website prides itself in being able to deliver 34,060 iPhone apps worth a total of $108,746 for free. Mega is an application that you can download through Cydia. Once installed, you will get a new icon on your springboard that looks like the App Store icon, with “Free” written all across.
When you launch the app, it looks just like the App Store. You can browse apps by category, you can search, etc… So far, nothing really revolutionary; there are several sites that already do this. Where I think it becomes outrageous is when the site tells you you have to pay if you want to download more than 5 applications a month. As you can see on the image below, the system has been thought through and strangely looks like Multi-Level Marketing.
Basically, if you have the free version, you can download up to 5 apps/month. To enjoy more downloads, you have to “recruit” new users. For $9.95/month, you can have full access and unlimited cracked apps downloads.
The fact that these people are reselling cracked iPhone apps just drives me nuts. I can understand people who crack applications and make them available for free to everyone. But this is just out of hand!
What is Apple doing against these people? They’re most likely aware of it. I had my share of problems with Apple’s lawyers and I know these guys are on top of what’s going on. Why aren’t these services taken down and brought to court?