Could App Pirates…Be Helping?

It’s simple enough, right? You don’t want to pay the price tag for the app you see so you can get it by just typing the name and .apk in Google. So why is pirating apps coming so often now? With the new apps that try to embarrass you if you try and pirate them, viruses starting to appear in 3rd party markets, and the tag of “cheap” being posted on you by developers, many people are taking a second look at pirating apps. Is it worth it? Some forums are set up to help pirate apps, others will ban you if you bring it up. How can there even be a debate on whether it’s right or not?

If you go to a developers website (xda for instance) and bring up pirating you will be shunned immediately and probably banned. Developers put a lot of time working on their apps. Loyalists will also bring up the fact that apps do not cost that much. “Is it so hard to pay .99?” they’ll ask. How would you feel if you spent days (even weeks) creating something and not gain anything from it? That’s the reality developers are facing. A lot of anti-Android critics are saying that because of this, developers will not look at developing for Android. But here’s an interesting twist on the idea: With how easy it is to pirate apps in the Android world charging for apps might actually become a thing of the past. A lot of developers are now opting to make a free version with Ads in it for the people that would otherwise pirate their work, and an ad free version for the people that are willing to pay. I don’t know if that’s good or bad for the market, or for developers for that matter. However, realize that not all parts of the world can buy paid apps in the Android Market yet. That means that a developer would have a larger audience if he/she released an ad free version and a full version. So it actually benefits a developer (in terms of audience) to do both. I don’t know if fiscally it ends up being the same. Rovio has decided it only will charge for Angry Birds Rio on the Amazon Store and the free, ad supported version will be on the Market. Do developers make more money selling it for a quick buck, or banking on ads to create revenue? Would you rather make a guaranteed buck, or the possibility of make more with the risk of less? Also, how many times have you heard that a big advantage of Android is that so many apps in the Market are free? Pirating is pushing more apps to be free and the idea that you can get anything for free on Android. From a popularity standpoint, this may be making the fiscally aware smart phone user even more likely to try out Android. Just something to chew on.

In a day and age where music is pirated almost as much as it’s bought we can’t be too surprised this is happening (heck, if you watch a “non official” music video on youtube you’re technically pirating. Crazy, right?). We live in a world where the internet makes information and a lot of things free and people are starting to demand that for all of their electronic goodies. Do I recommend pirating? Absolutely not. I understand that developers take a lot of time to make something and I’ll support them when I can. At the same time a lot of my good friends pirate apps because they don’t want to pay for them. I wouldn’t consider any of them to be any less of morally upstanding citizens than I am. So where do you stand on the subject?

» See more articles by Andrew Greenfield


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  • curse

    Without company sponsored piracy, you wouldn’t have Windows on your computer…

  • Raymond Terrific

    I pirate all my apps and end up buying %95 of them. I also email the dev, apologize and hopefully show them piracy works. Everyone should do this, because there really isn’t any other way to show the “good” numbers of piracy.

  • adidas

    This has been going since apple came up with the app store. We don’t want to.pay for every little app n most of the time the app sucks n we wish we could get our.money back. It started as a try b4 u buy complete version but on.Android.its cool that most is free. Pirating is going on n will continue for the lifespan of our mobile app market

  • ari-free

    Just don’t complain when ios gets all the killer games and Android gets stuck with 6 month old ports and tux racer.

  • Marc

    A cartoon I saw really struck home with me. People have no problem spending $6 for a cup of coffee, but get upset about spending $0.99 on an app. I do think ad supported is the way to go though, easier for everyone.

  • odd

    curse, can you elaborate or link an explanation? I dont know what youre talking about but curious on the subject.

    I try to buy when the price is fair. Most of the time the price is. Nowadays, when I see games go for 60$ on steam, I just decide to wait to play, with a few exception. I dont mind waiting.

    But apps? yeah if the price is fair. I usually search for free alternatives.

  • JeffMD

    Somehow I don’t think the fact that the danger of viruses increasing is a GOOD thing for android, especially when there is virtually no such thing on the apple front.

    Instead I would look at it this way, the fact that there is no definitive goto source (of which apple has 2) for pirated apps, most smart people would skip pirating an app if its only download location was “questionable” could be looked upon as a good thing. The bad thing is, most people are stupid, and because of this we are finding out just how open and unsafe 3rd party APK installations can be for android phones.

  • ari-free

    I don’t think ad-supported is the way to go. Even the largest phone screen size is too small for ads. And not everyone wants a 5″ phone.
    I also don’t want to only find Farmville or Warcraft games where they try to sucker people into buying chocolate cows or an extra +100 armor.

  • Whatev

    Those who know how to successfully pirate without risk of viruses will always do so. The only one’s maybe, at risk are newbies and the ignorant cheap. I am on the fence about it since I understand that the non-US folks cannot always purchase every app available, etc. I don’t need to pirate so I’ll never be at risk; however, once I’m aware of a Developer pulling the alledged, Walk and Text vengeful act of mass texting contacts with a bogus/embarrassing text, that Dev is off my list forever. It doesn’t make that kind of rebuttal any better.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joao.m.freitas João Monte E Freitas

    Piracy happens, piracy will never go away, and yes piracy do help :-)

  • zarrel40

    I think that ad supported with an option to pay for no ads is the real way to go. It’s the best of both worlds. That way if the ads piss you off, you can’t complain. If you really want the app with no ads then you can just buy it.

  • richard bown

    Googles reduction to 15 minutes in the market hasn;t helped either, nor has amazons US only appstore.
    I’ve been stung several times (EA Need for Speed i’m looking at you here!) with buying a game, then having to spend 20 minutes downloading additional content. Then finding out the game crashes my device, and emails to the dev come to nothing. Just check out the comments on need for speed in the market for galaxy s users.

    As for amazon if the app of the day is free for a US resident, and the resto of the world have to pay for it from the market, I can see why people would think “what’s the harm if I get a pirate copy of it”.
    I don’t agree with it, but I can see why people would think it.

    Just two examples where the distributors could do more to prevent it!

  • ranger67

    I don’t agree with outright pirating, but a try b4 you buy is definitely beneficial particularly when it comes to apps. A counter setup is the best but hardest setup to achieve. If I could run an app 2-3x before spending my money, that would be great. In lieu of that, I would like to see a 30 day money back scenario. Install the app and then 30 days later you either dump it or pay for it. With the google market, this could be achieved. Until there are options, its hard for me to condemn pirates to rigorously. I have to agree with Raymond Terrific. If we could prove to the developers that a trial period is a necessity and that we will pay a fair price for apps that solve our needs, then everyone wins.

  • http://talkandroid.com Andrew Greenfield

    Richard: That’s an interesting story; I had no idea. I can imagine spending a lot of money on a game (as I’m sure the EA game wasn’t cheap) only to find out it doesn’t work on your device.

  • somedude

    lol im more interested in those ‘forums to help piracy’ where can i find those, my google searches always take me to mexian forums =[

  • Urban

    Jag testar