Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dear iPhoneCrackDetector

Attention readers: you may have noticed a lack of posting around here. It's because of those damn hackers and their DDOS. As such I have been offline and studiously building a fallout shelter in my backyard.

Anyway I found this in my Inbox a few days ago:
"Dear iPhoneCrackDetector,

I have been following your blog for a few weeks and been checking for the Info.plist crack even before you mentioned it. You're [sic] methods of being subversive have helped me well and I have been tracking usage for sometimes [sic]. I seen [sic] that your daughter ratted you out to her cracker friends so as a gift I will show you my usage statistics for my application ******* ********.

You're [sic] friendly iPhone Developer,
[redacted]

ps I hope my grammer [sic] and spelling are good enough for you! My graphs also don't track my paid users because I'm a nice guy!"
Ok. I'm not going to nitpick on the grammar and spelling so much, [redacted], but I will post your graphs (slightly edited to remove incriminating evidence) since they are very enlightening.

This is an eleven day run which tracks application execution. As you can see [redacted]'s application gets fairly constant usage per day.

Ok. Over a span of eleven days, [redacted]'s application has been copied at least 260 times. If you count the bars, you'll sum up to 260 but his graph title says 263. In either case, I say at least because these are the suckers that fell into the Info.plist detection trap.

[redacted] didn't give me enough statistics in his first correspondence to me, so I asked him for minimum, maximum and average usage over the eleven days he sent me. I also asked for his total number of sales for the 11 days and here's what he said:

"Hey iPhoneCrackDetector,

Minimum uasge is 1 for the eleven days. 12 pirates installed ******* ******** and ran it once. Maximum usage is 32 by 5 pirates. Next highest maximum is 29 by 52 pirates. Average usage is 7 runs per pirate.

My daily reports show 574 sales for those 11 days.

[...]"
HOLY FUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When I read this I immediately divided 260 into 574. This yielded 45.296%.

Unfortunately my math was wrong. Over the total number of downloads (260 + 574) then the piracy yield is really: 260 / (260 + 574) = 31.175%.

This is still not a number to be scoffing at.

Given that most of the pirated copies are in constant use then I'm pretty sure running an application on average 7 times a day for 11 days is beyond the intent of the "trial period" that some of the lead crackers in the jailbreak/cracker scene are advocating.

So what do you do?

I suggest to you [redacted] that you stop developing for the App Store. 31.175% of your users are lying, cheating, scummy bastards. Another suggestion is to increase your application price. Store owners do it to counter shoplifting, so I suggest you do it too. Your new customers will be subsidizing the pirates who use their copies for free, but hey, put it this way... your existing customers won't have to pay anything.

29 comments:

Covenant550 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Covenant550 said...

Hey sorry for deleting my other comment. Yes I'm sure you know my user name but that does not matter to me. I was actually wondering if you have an e-mail address or anything where I can talk? If you want you may e-mail me first (I'll probably forget to check back :P) I think you'll find some of what I have to say interesting. Thank you.

iPhoneCrackDetector said...

You could have guessed like every one else:

iphonecrackdetector@gmail.com

Score_Under said...

You need to separate your post tags out with commas, otherwise they're pretty much useless.

TheDragon said...

Another thing to keep in mind, which may be in one of the Penny Arcade guest posts that I mentioned in a previous comment, the Pirates are not your target demographic. Most typically a Pirate would never pay for the product in the first place even if it couldn't be pirated. They shouldn't even come in to consideration when looking at your sales, because they would not have been potential paying customers in the first place.

Personally, if I find an application that's too much of a hassle to crack (and I mean in general, not app store apps) I will find an equivalent open source application. This tends to be the consensus in the Pirate community.

The trial period argument is a cop-out. It's used by Pirates that are afraid to come out and say flat out that they steal software. In some cases the lack of a trial may be the impetus of piracy, but you now have the full application without having paid for it. Why pay for it at that point?

Valve is a company that tends to put value in paying for their applications. I paid for Team Fortress 2, and plan on buying Left 4 Dead because there's genuine value in their online interaction and I'm willing to pay to access that service.

Anyway, I think that if the application developer that sent you this data had no piracy of his application at all, his usage would dip but his sales would stay the same.

luke said...

Just curious, I don't see a HUGE reason to be concerned with piracy of applications. I am a developer myself and I guess you just have to accept that some people may crack your app and use it illegally. The thing you have to realize is that the people who are cracking your application are the people who were not likely to be buying the application anyway, so you are not losing money from it nor are you losing any customers.

Tevin said...

I think that arguing that 'they wouldn't have bought your app anyways' is BS.

I'm not saying they would; but honestly, I sweated for hours over my app, gave up days of my life and spent a bunch of money getting everything together. And now, while my app struggles to get some traction in the app store, thousands of pirates have played it already...

that pisses me off, to be honest. Why should they get a free ride off the portion of my life and finances that I put into this game? Let them go play flash games for free online. There are enough free apps and free games out there that they shouldn't be cracking something that only costs $2 in the first place.

This sense of entitlement, that it's somehow alright to take other peoples work and use it for free, is disgusting.

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