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Piracy Google Software

Android Software Piracy Rampant 510

bednarz writes "Pirating Android apps is a longstanding problem. But it seems to be getting worse, even as Google begins to respond much more aggressively. The dilemma: protecting developers' investments, and revenue stream, while keeping an open platform. Some have argued that piracy is rampant in those countries where the online Android Market is not yet available. But a recent KeyesLabs research project suggests that may not be true: 'Over the course of 90 days, the [KeyesLabs] app was installed a total of 8,659 times. Of those installations only 2,831 were legitimate purchases, representing an overall piracy rate of over 67%.... The largest contributor to piracy, by far, is the United States providing 4,054 or about 70% of all pirated installations...'"
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Android Software Piracy Rampant

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  • by mapkinase ( 958129 ) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @12:13PM (#33735566) Homepage Journal

    "Of those installations only 2,831 were legitimate purchases, representing an overall piracy rate of over 67%...."

    What's the piracy rate on popular desktop , laptop (conventional PC) applications?

    (In Russia, almost all of the software sold is unlicensed (it has been like that at least several years ago). Given that Russia is a populous country, floods US and other developed countries w/ programmers and generally is a flourishing business, one can only assume that Russian software market cannot be dismissed during this assessment.)

  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <(eldavojohn) (at) (> on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @12:13PM (#33735568) Journal

    The dilemma: protecting developers' investments, and revenue stream, while keeping an open platform.

    From (note: there's no reason to read the article I'm about to link, it's badly laid out with terrible ads and I'll quote the title) another article []:

    Android Skins, "Crapware" Protected by Open Source Principles, Says Schmidt

    Please note, I could not find where Schmidt said these exact words but there was some sentiment of this in his interview. And there's some truth to it.

    Truth be told, I'm a little wary of applications on my Android based Motorola DROID. I have seen the skins apps and am curious how one maker gets licenses for Zelda, Minnesota Vikings, Justin Beiber and all other kinds of imagery when they sell these skins. This sort of questionable content makes me wonder what other questionable things are being engaged. Likewise, I'm also a little wary of a lot of the free games I play. One in particular is the Solitaire Free Pack [] which, as it so turns out, I am a big fan of the ~40 variants of solitaire they offer. I also would like to use the Kindle application on my phone. There's just one problem: it wants my Amazon account login and password.

    You know, it's not that I don't trust Android, Google or Amazon ... it's the other apps I've unwittingly installed willy nilly on my phone while bored or drunk on the metro. You'll probably be able to assure me that there's no way another app could access the disk or memory space of the Kindle app but it just seems unsafe. I would not find iOS all that much more reassuring but I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in the paranoia of storing account information inside my phone -- or even repeatedly typing it in.

    I don't have any proof that it's a real security issue and I hope apps somehow get very restricted memory and disk spaces but I think Google has a little further to go on security as well as offering developers a way to recoup losses. Since it'll undoubtedly be DRM like their early attempts [], I hope it's stressed to be opt-in and not advised.

  • by ADRA ( 37398 ) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @12:30PM (#33735826)

    wow, its .99. Your lunch probably costs 5x as much. The return policy gives you the ability to return apps that are really bad. If YOU don't think an app isn't worth the money then by all means don't buy them. I always find the opposite; good apps get released for free with no way besides annoying ads to monetize the developers for their work.

  • by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @12:31PM (#33735844) Homepage

    I know I've seen blurbs indicating that software piracy on the iPhone/iPod (due to jailbreaks) is huge. Does anyone know if the problem is better or worse on one side of the fence?

    Just reading the summary it comes across as something like "Android pirate's heaven (thus iPhone good for developers)", when I suspect the real case is "Android pirate's heaven (just like PC/Mac/iPhone)".

  • Funny, it always seemed to me that the "incentive" for buying a product was being able to use the product.

    Secondly, there are a crapload of Android apps that are overpriced, you can't expect someone to pay for essentially a tech demo or utility

    True. I expect people to not use those apps if there is no way to get a free trial. Why is this so difficult to do? If the developer isn't cooperating in making his app available, why not move on to another product? And if there is no other product, why not do without?

    And number three, a lot of apps simply don't work. Unless there is a free version equivalent to all the features of the paid version, no one wants to spend even $.99 on something that doesn't work then deal with the hassle of returning the application.

    This is subjective. I've received emails from people for my app on BB saying "it doesn't work". And that's true - it doesn't work for that user because their service provider hasn't correctly set up networking, or any of a hundred other reasons specific to that user's configuration.

    I can accept that one doesn't want to pay for something only to have it completely fail to work - especially in the digital context, where you can't just walk in to the store and get your money back. But again I'd say - why not just avoid the app in the first place, if no free functional trial is offered? Why do you feel entitled to a free trial when the person who developed it is not giving one? What is it that you bring to the table that the developer should be saying "oh, yeah, for YOU I can make an exception"?

    And in both cases, let's face the truth: once someone downloads a binary to "try it out", the odds are good that if the user continues running the app - they're still not going to go back and pay for it. What incentive is there to do so, when they already have the app for "free"?

  • by bieber ( 998013 ) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @12:43PM (#33736030)
    I find it difficult to believe that anyone has even stolen code from you...perhaps you mean copied? Lets be perfectly clear, so-called "piracy" is not stealing anything, it's violating a (theoretically) temporary monopoly that you've been granted by the government. Aside from that monopoly, you have absolutely nothing to do with two people copying data between their computers. You can argue that copyright protection is a necessary incentive to produce creative works in our society, but I don't believe---and a great many others agree with me---that those protections should extend to private copying in the digital era, and that stance does not make us "morally corrupt."

    Consider this. I don't use proprietary software. I'll gladly pay for software, but not so long as the author is going to restrict what I'm allowed to do with it. So whatever software you may produce, am I not "stealing" just as much money from you by not using it as those who share it amongst themselves are by not paying you for it? Or are only some of the people who choose not to pay for your software "thieves," despite the fact that we all have exactly the same net effect on your pocketbook?
  • by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @12:51PM (#33736124)
    90% is fairly typical as far as I can tell. That's what it was for Machinarium as well. From what I can tell a piracy rate of only 80% is quite good.
  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @01:31PM (#33736678) Homepage

    ...and another thing.

    These are not "tiny" devices. These things have multi-gigabyte main storage.

    I remember when you were lucky to have as much space for "bloated Windows".

    Anymore, it's media that takes up all of the space. That's true even for something like Windows 7 Ultimate.

  • by wshs ( 602011 ) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @02:04PM (#33737302)
    Some apps are quite expensive. The sling player on android is $30, not *that* bad, and a garmin app for over $100. But, if you're unlucky enough to have an iProduct, there's a $1000 bar exam study guide. You also have to consider the return on investment. A $50 stick of ram will last you years. A $20 android game? A few days, maybe.
  • by Andorin ( 1624303 ) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @02:59PM (#33738270)

    Your mentality is a good example of what's wrong with copyright today. You appear to believe that because "it takes time and effort to write code," it follows that a developer should be paid for every single copy of his code that is produced by others, completely regardless of the fact that in the digital environment, copies are non-scarce, effectively making them worthless. There is nothing, except for tradition (which has been totally invalidated by modern technology), to connect the ideas that "software takes effort to make" and "software authors must be paid for every copy." Why not pay them for the actual creation of the software in the first place, rather than after the fact?

    I'm also interested in how a lot of people are "morally corrupt" because they disagree with your old-fashioned view of copyright. Care to elaborate on that?

  • by Miamicanes ( 730264 ) on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @03:44PM (#33738950)

    > Commercial software that gets pirated is useful by definition... otherwise it would not be pirated

    You underestimate the number of packrats with ADD -- users who have dozens and dozens of pirated apps installed... 99% of which they never use, and only keep around because having lots and lots of apps makes them happy. The trick to monetizing these users is to create an app that has two levels of piracy... an "easy" level of cracking that lets them feel like they got the real app, then a much harder level of cracking that suddenly manifests itself at a point when they urgently need the app to work and will *instantly* pull out the credit card and spend a few bucks just to solve their problem *immediately*.

    No, I'm not talking about apps that are borderline-malicious. For example, suppose you wrote an app to lay out PC boards (unsuitable for a phone, but this is just for illustration). Officially, you limit it to 2x2 inches and one side, but make it fairly easy to crack and allow nominally unlimited size, two sides, and four layers. HOWEVER... the app knows it's pirated, so it just sits and waits. And waits, until the user goes to export it to a Gerber file for manufacturing. You even allow him to export as many Gerber files as he wants to, until 5 minutes elapse without an export attempt. Then you pull the trigger -- the next time he goes to print a Gerber, make it look like your app has somehow reverted to "lite" mode and needs to be purchased to continue. No, you don't jack up the price at that point... remember, the goal isn't to piss him off and motivate him to go hunting for a crack. The goal is to get him to the point where he's stressed out, racing to meet a deadline, and desperate... then hit him with a reasonable charge that will make the problem go away forever. For this to work, you have to make it blame-free, easy, fair, and (most importantly) *guaranteed to be instant*. If you tell him his order will be processed within 24 hours, you've just lost the sale. He's going to go right back to hunting for a crack so he can fix it *now*, because you just admitted that buying it *won't* solve his problem *immediately*.

    Something similar can be applied to games (and, in fact, HAS been applied to games, but in a way intended more to extract revenge on pirates rather than drive sales). A game appears to be cracked and goes along with it, then at some critical moment pretends to have reverted to demo mode in a way that can be instantly restored to full mode upon purchasing an activation code (possibly from within the game itself). Pull out your Visa card in the next 5 minutes, and you can slay the dragon & save the day. Spend too long thinking about it, and you'll be the dragon's lunch & your past 16 hours will have been wasted. The key is to make sure that the only people who even GET to this point are the hardcore gamers who REALLY play it. First, because they're the ones with enough invested in it to pony up the cash to continue. Second, because if you reveal it TOO soon, you'll just motivate some lesser script kiddies to try cracking it for everyone else. Urgency works. Wait until the player is *so* into the game, he won't WANT to waste time cracking it, because that would distract him from playing the game. To pick up more low-hanging fruit, make the game sold and crackable on multiple levels. Free demo, $3-5 base game that's easy to crack, but starts showing ads a few days after cracking, then a $10-25 'advanced' module that pretends to be easy to crack, and just lies in wait for the right moment to make its, *cough* sales pitch *cough*.

    It's basic security, really. If someone is hyperfocused on compromising your security, the best thing you can do is to let them think they've won, and get them distracted for a few days. Then, it'll be that much harder for them to continue when you start throwing challenges at them again. They'll have to re-learn things they forgot, and get back into "the zone". You're not going to make a sale to someone who's invested 3 days trying to crack y

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 29, 2010 @05:19PM (#33740264)

    The flaw in your argument is that several thousand people are regularly using the app without buying it. This isn't a case of, "Try before you buy and support good stuff." This is, "Hey, I can use this without buying it!"

    And please: don't try to float the argument "Well, they wouldn't have used it in the first place if they had to pay for it." That's what the way it's supposed to work.

No amount of genius can overcome a preoccupation with detail.