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Not-So-Rampant Piracy On The iPhone?

11-27-2009, 05:11 PM
#1
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Not-So-Rampant Piracy On The iPhone?

I've posted a copy of my recent blog entry below. Go to http://www.mindjuice.net to see it in its original form.

I'm interested in any feedback. Thanks!

Not-So-Rampant Piracy On The iPhone?
I’ve been reading several articles recently where developers and publishers are complaining about the “rampant piracy” on the iPhone and iPod Touch platforms. The developers say that they are seeing high score submissions from a far higher number of players than they’ve sold copies of the game. They say that this fact proves the other players are playing pirated copies, and they further blame Apple for this situation. As it turns out, they are right about Apple’s culpability, but not in the way they thought.

While I certainly don’t dispute that piracy exists on this platform, it seems to me that these developers are missing a very key point, which they may well not even be aware of. When you sell an app for $0.99, you as the developer get $0.70 from Apple, however, even if there was zero piracy you may only be earning $0.14 from each user that is using your app or playing your game! “How can that be?”, you ask!

It is because Apple’s distribution policy allows users to install your app or game on up to 5 iDevices of their choice from a single paid copy! I received a support email recently from a player indicating that his entire family has our game, Charmed, installed on their 5 iDevices.

So far I have not seen any indication that the piracy estimates have included this fact in any way, so it stands to reason that they would then grossly overestimate the amount of piracy that is going on.

In a completely scientific survey of 20 of my friends and coworkers that own iPhones and iPod Touches, exactly one of them has a jailbroken device, and he only did it to be able to develop stuff that Apple won’t let him do with the normal Software Development Kit. Furthermore, most of them didn’t even know what jailbreaking was or how to do it even if they had heard of it.

Of course I am joking about the scientific validity of this survey, but I just don’t believe that the vast majority of iPhone and iPod Touch users care enough to bother jailbreaking their devices.

So the statistics for piracy are likely very much lower than the 90% that others have estimated. Besides, as my good friend Homer Simpson says people can come up with statistics to prove anything! Forty percent of all people know that!
11-27-2009, 05:28 PM
#2
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: Georgia
Posts: 314
Great post Ken. That's something I've been thinking about lately with all the piracy talk. We have a total of 6 working iDevices in the house, 4 of them iPhones and iTouches. The whole family uses the same iTunes account so anything any of us buys works on all of our devices whether it's music, movies or apps. That means there's four copies of Charmed in use in my house alone from a single purchase. A feel like I owe you $9!

Q

Quorlan

11-27-2009, 05:47 PM
#3
Joined: Nov 2009
Location: Here No More
Posts: 792
Hi,

My thanks to the OP for bringing this up.

As a customer, and not a pirate, I have been wondering about the numbers and how they can be so high.

Also have brought up the policy of apple allowing each device tied into a single account being able to use any app tied to that account.

As a consumer, I like it, and hope it does not change.

I can see, as a developer would, that it may eat into possible income developing for the Iphone.

David

Last edited by Harpgliss; 11-27-2009 at 07:56 PM.
11-27-2009, 05:59 PM
#4
App Sharing may contribute to the factor but merely a portion on it. The top app piracy directory is getting about a million of unique visitors daily and 20% of those traffic comes from the United States and this is just one site So yeah, piracy is still at a very bad level.

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11-27-2009, 06:21 PM
#5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grumps View Post
App Sharing may contribute to the factor but merely a portion on it. The top app piracy directory is getting about a million of unique visitors daily and 20% of those traffic comes from the United States and this is just one site So yeah, piracy is still at a very bad level.
Which site is that, and where did you find the stat of 1 million unique daily visitors?
11-27-2009, 06:30 PM
#6
Joined: May 2009
Location: UK
Posts: 741
The 90-95% figures come from apps checking for modified files in the bundle or something so they can tell real pirates. Pinch Media's library does it and I guess some people do it themselves in code.

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11-27-2009, 07:01 PM
#7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GlennX View Post
The 90-95% figures come from apps checking for modified files in the bundle or something so they can tell real pirates. Pinch Media's library does it and I guess some people do it themselves in code.
I've never seen a 90-95% figure quoted by Pinch Media. They estimate 60% overall.

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/article...-at-60-percent

http://www.pinchmedia.com/blog/pirac...-from-360idev/
11-27-2009, 07:30 PM
#8
Joined: May 2009
Location: UK
Posts: 741
Quote:
Originally Posted by MindJuice View Post
I've never seen a 90-95% figure quoted by Pinch Media. They estimate 60% overall.

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/article...-at-60-percent

http://www.pinchmedia.com/blog/pirac...-from-360idev/
People have claimed (possibly even in this forum), 90%+ piracy using Pinch's system. I think the conclusion was that it was only for the first day or so though. There is an interview with a guy from Pinch on a Mobile Orchard podcast where I think he confirmed this.

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11-27-2009, 07:34 PM
#9
Joined: Jan 2009
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I'm not sure what the 5 systems has to do with it. It's always been like that, not just with apps, but with everything on the iTMS. I don't find anything wrong with that -- actually, I think it's good. It means my wife and I don't have to buy everything twice, which is pretty absurd.

Piracy levels themselves are quite high though, especially with the more popular titles. But that comes with the territory, unfortunately. Doesn't matter what system you're developing for, you're going to be developing for at least as many pirates as legit customers, especially on systems that are easy to pirate on. (PC and Mac, mainly.) It's been that way since there was something to pirate, and the Internet has only made it easier. You have to take a pragmatic view and deal with it however you feel is best, with a mind to the idea that you aren't going to stop it. That sucks, but that's the reality you have to face.

As I understand it there are ways to detect piracy in-code, and it's possible for developers to take actions based on whether it detects a pirated copy. I don't know how much access hackers have to the packages and whether they can actually crack iPhone apps in the same manner as desktop apps (aren't iPhone apps encrypted?) so I don't know how effective doing such a thing is, but there it is anyway.

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11-27-2009, 07:51 PM
#10
Joined: Aug 2009
Location: San Francisco
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mindfield View Post
I'm not sure what the 5 systems has to do with it. It's always been like that, not just with apps, but with everything on the iTMS. I don't find anything wrong with that -- actually, I think it's good. It means my wife and I don't have to buy everything twice, which is pretty absurd.
Agreed, I think it's great that if you buy an app in iTunes you can use it multiple devices. There's a lot of games my girlfriend plays on my iPod Touch, and she decides to get an iPhone, we'll share an iTunes account so she doesn't have to re-buy all those games.

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