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Android Software Piracy Rampant

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the run-for-your-lives dept.

Piracy 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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510 comments

Hire Americans, and they can afford things (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33735540)

Hire Americans, and they can afford things...

Otherwise, expect us to live our lives by any means necessary.

Re:Hire Americans, and they can afford things (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33735614)

Hire Americans, and they can afford things...

Right, like Android Smartphones, which they will then pirate apps on!

Sounds like hiring Americans will just increase the piracy rates.

Re:Hire Americans, and they can afford things (5, Insightful)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735736)

Otherwise, expect us to live our lives by any means necessary.

In what way is pirating an app necessary to living your life?

Re:Hire Americans, and they can afford things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33735814)

He said the means were necessary not the app.

Re:Hire Americans, and they can afford things (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735872)

The "means" he's referring to are the "pirated apps". Reading comprehension fail.

Re:Hire Americans, and they can afford things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33735992)

No, the "means" he's referring to is pirating apps. It isn't that the apps are necessary, it's that the money to buy them is unavailable -- thereby making piracy (or, in the alternative, going without the apps and still not paying the developers any money) a necessity.

Another "research" project involving sample size 1 (0)

sjonke (457707) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735554)

n/t

Yay for global warming! (0, Troll)

burisch_research (1095299) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735562)

Piracy and global warming are directly correlated! So, with more piracy, we'll finally see the global warming trend reverse!

http://www.venganza.org/about/open-letter/ [venganza.org]

Numbers need a reference scale (3, Interesting)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735566)

"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.)

Re:Numbers need a reference scale (4, Insightful)

GiveBenADollar (1722738) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735714)

I read the article and still have no idea how piracy rate is determined. Over at Keyslabs there is a writeup which covers licensing, but nothing showing how pirates are detected. Maybe it's to prevent the pirates from getting smart, but being closed about your statistics is worse than having no statistics at all. We have no way of validating the numbers against false positives so to counter I have embedded a script in this post which detects theft and have found that 95% of the people who read this are plagiarizing it for their own posts. There now we can all have statistics.

Re:Numbers need a reference scale (4, Informative)

varmittang (849469) | more than 3 years ago | (#33736114)

They probably have some part of their game that connects to a server to post scores, or some code that phones home. But most likely its a score posting and during that connection they get a unique ID for that phone so you can over write your best score. But if 8,659 people send in scores, but only 2,831 purchases were made, they can determine that most likely there is a 67% piracy rate for their application. So, its a guess, but a very educated guess, and could actually be said to be the lowest their app is being pirated, in that it could be higher amount of people having it installed but are not phoning home.

Re:Numbers need a reference scale (2, Funny)

linhares (1241614) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735724)

(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.)

You made an informative comment about Russia? That's not the way we do things around here [google.com.br] , son. Watch it.

Re:Numbers need a reference scale (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33736104)

You made an informative comment about Russia? That's not the way we do things around here

Which means that it is the way they do things in Soviet Russia, proving that his post is authentic.

Re:Numbers need a reference scale (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33735732)

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

Uninteresting. The useful point of comparison is the platforms Android is competing against; iphones, Blackberries, Symbian etc.

Re:Numbers need a reference scale (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735808)

More important, what was the legitimate rate for the US. If 99% of the legitimate installs are from the US, then the US has a piracy rate under 62%.

However, this also ignores the simple fact that most of the people who pirated an app wouldn't have shelled out money for it. Are you going to buy something if you can't at least kick the tires first?

And let's be honest - a lot of these utilities should eventually make their way into the OS anyway.

Re:Numbers need a reference scale (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735958)

The Android market place let's you refund any application within 24 hours of purchase. I wonder if they took that into account when they came up with their piracy statistics, although I'd have to assume they aren't that stupid.

Re:Numbers need a reference scale (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#33736036)

"Apps" quite often are things that either should be part of the core OS or things that should be Free Software.

Re:Numbers need a reference scale (5, Informative)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735870)

I remember reading a blog post [2dboy.com] by 2D Boy, makers of World of Goo, that stated that they calculated a piracy rate of 90%. That's on an independent game, that only cost $15. It's a great game, and well worth the money. There's also absolutely no DRM on the game so there's no reason to assume that people are "pirating" because they need to get around copy protection for a game they already bought. They added corrections to the blog post, later, correcting the number to around 82%. So 67% doesn't seem all that bad in comparison.

Re:Numbers need a reference scale (2, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

And Therein Lies the Rub (3, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735568)

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 [dailytech.com] :

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 [androlib.com] 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 [slashdot.org] , I hope it's stressed to be opt-in and not advised.

Re:And Therein Lies the Rub (4, Insightful)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 3 years ago | (#33736002)

One word: Permissions. There's a reason they're displayed every time you install an app...

Re:And Therein Lies the Rub (1)

martyw (1911748) | more than 3 years ago | (#33736188)

The only shaky security you can get on Android comes from the developer itself, check the source, check dev's website whether they are trust worthy or not, but given the market "open" approach this is a major problem. You bake the app, put it on the market, nothing is stopping you. The app can access a lot and can call home over the internet, so you are afraid for a good reason. Hopefully Google starts putting some fences and walls around this wild garden

Why do they consider it piracy? (2, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735578)

If you release a binary, it will be copied. The very act of releasing it is tacit acknowledgement that you have given up absolute control over it. Companies that develop software should accept this and consider alternative income methods like support contracts and priority upgrade access.

As long as software companies think that their software has any monetary worth, they will continue to fight a losing battle to technology itself.

Re:Why do they consider it piracy? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33735680)

If you own a jewelry store, it will be robbed. the very act of owning a jewelry store is tacit acknowledgment that you accept being robbed. companies that sell jewelry should accept this and consider alternative income methods like polishing jewelry or beet farming.

as long as jewelry stores think that their jewelry has monetary worth, they will continue to fight a losing battle to gun technology itself.

/ in other words, you are an idiot.

Software is not a physical item (2, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735774)

If someone steals a jewel from a jewelry store, the physical item is no longer in the store's hands. Likewise, if someone buys a jewel from a jewelry store, the property transfers to the customer.

But software is infinitely reproducible for next to no cost. A copy "stolen" has no value, and a copy sold does not reduce the ability of the software producer to continue making copies.

Your analogy isn't bad. It's completely incorrect.

Re:Software is not a physical item (5, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735914)

But software is infinitely reproducible for next to no cost

Too bad it's not "infinitely developable" for next to no cost.

Re:Software is not a physical item (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735982)

If it is useful software, people will develop for it for free. This is the core concept of Open Source software.

Re:Software is not a physical item (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33735940)

[as a thought experiment, he wasn't serious] My college roommate felt that whenever an item is copyrighted, a set "number" should be made. Once they're sold/pirated, they're gone. Of course then you can prosecute piracy as theft of a physical good because that's what it is.

Re:Software is not a physical item (1)

Paralizer (792155) | more than 3 years ago | (#33736106)

Maybe you can understand it better if it were you selling something.

Suppose you made something intangible and "infinitely reproducible", like an ebook or an android app. You sell it for $20.

Scenario 1:
I give you $20
I get a copy of the product

Scenario 2:
I get a copy of the product

The net difference between these two is that you don't get the $20 yet I still get the product. If I were not a potential customer to begin with (this has been discussed on /. before and I agree with it), then you really didn't lose anything since I was never going to pay anyway. However, if I were a potential customer and I pirated it, it would be the same as me buying it then stealing my $20 back, except you never really got the $20 to begin with. It's obvious that you not getting paid is the same as stealing, how can you disagree?

Re:Software is not a physical item (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33736178)

So then according to this logic Cisco shouldn't have had to pay the SFLC or the Busybox developers any money for their infringement of the GPL, right? It's not as if the original developers were deprived of their copy of the source code and since the software was given away for free, by Slashdot logic they should have paid $0 in damages, no?

Re:Why do they consider it piracy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33736000)

If you own a jewelry store, your customers will be robbed. the very act of owning a jewelry store is tacit acknowledgment that you intend to rob your customers

FTFY

Re:Why do they consider it piracy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33736042)

Interesting example, since even in the best neighbourhoods, jewellery stores are the ones that still have bars on their windows.

They don't DESERVE theft, but all jewellery stores seem to EXPECT it.

That doesn't make it right, it just makes it something that should be considered.

Also, that and theft and piracy are, in the modern sense, absolutely different things, the only thing they share in common are that both are illegal.

Re:Why do they consider it piracy? (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735756)

Exactly. There are a -lot- of ways to fund development, making an application, overpricing it, failing to maintain it, etc. will end in failure. If your software fills a needed niche, people will pay for it if you aren't a dick about it, but most software doesn't fill a needed niche. For example, I have no problems downloading the full versions of things like an NES emulator because the free version A) Wasn't very crippled (no save state support, I can live with that) B) Didn't have obnoxious ads that blocked the gameplay C) Did its jobs well and D) Didn't have crippling updates (like Shazam has). On the other hand, something like Shazam was nice, then they reduced the number of playbacks to 7, then they reduced it to 5, so I removed it and encouraged all my friends to do the same. Yeah, Shazam is cool, but they were dicks, I'm not going to buy the full version of software that treats me like crap.

Re:Why do they consider it piracy? (5, Insightful)

mjbkinx (800231) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735884)

Thank you for your advice. Since I don't believe I can interest you in a support contract for my jump and run game, I'm going to plaster it with ads as an alternative source of income.

Re:Why do they consider it piracy? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735968)

Of course it has monetary worth. I think MS has made a lot of money from selling a binary.

There is nothing wrong with making money from selling software.

Re:Why do they consider it piracy? (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#33736018)

Sure, but they make the bulk of it licensing it directly to hardware manufacturers. Most users who acquire the software on its own pirate it. Microsoft has accepted this fact and found alternate means of making money that works around the software pirates.

KeyesLab app? (1)

SoupGuru (723634) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735580)

I'm sure something like a KeyesLab app is representative of most other apps, right?

Re:KeyesLab app? (2, Informative)

v1 (525388) | more than 3 years ago | (#33736048)

That's something I was contemplating... the app itself and the price its set at (as well as other factors) could dramatically affect these numbers.

For example, if adobe were to loosen their DRM system on say, elements, a very useful and respected app, and price it at $500 a license, the pirated vs legit licenses would be somewhere around 95%. OTOH if the app was priced at $10/license and kept its DRM, the rate would probably be somewhere around 5%. The piracy rate is a function of the DRM and and of the value of the software and the reasonableness of the price for a specific market.

The market also plays into it a bit. You may have a wickedly useful app in a highly specialized market, so you price it high and still get low piracy rates because the ones buying it need it, recognize its quality, and can easily afford it. But then say a smaller amateur market realizes how useful it can be to them, but no way in hell they want to pay whats being asked for it for a hobby, so the piracy rate in that market, for the same app, could easily be over 90%.

Compare say, photoshop in CS, versus elements. They used plan B. When people with shallower pockets want to use your pricey software, the profitable way to do it is to offer a lower grade of software, at a lower price, so they can reasonably buy instead of pirate. It's when a small number of large sales gets less profit than a much larger number of smaller sales.

You have to fine tune your price point to optimize your revenue. Too low and you're missing out on what people are willing to pay. Too high and piracy starts to drive the curve downward on the other side. Either find the sweet spot for your one product, piss everyone off with draconian DRM, or offer multiple tiers of your product at different price points. Of course having multiple versions of your software makes fine tuning your price points a major headache, but can work to squeeze the most out of the market.

I guess all I'm saying is that piracy rate in itself doesn't really say much about where the problem is. Anyone that tells you that this leads to just one obvious conclusion, (like, oh we NEED DRM! or THIS PLATFORM'S USERS ARE ALL PIRATES!) is either an idiot, or is pushing an agenda. So someone bringing up a specific software example without providing any of the necessary details to sort out all the possible factors is either an idiot or is trying to deceive you.

Do they? (4, Insightful)

KillaGouge (973562) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735616)

Do they mention the price of the app, what the app did, where they phones in the US with US numbers, where they foreign phones in the US, did they see how long the users leaved the app installed after they pirated, did any of the pirates later purchase the app, how long they did the study, or anything else that might actually be useful information?

Re:Do they? (1)

KillaGouge (973562) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735648)

Also, did they break it down by carrier, or if they where all phones?

Re:Do they? (1)

WillyWanker (1502057) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735700)

Of course not. Why would they actually report useful information instead of some kind of unsubstantiated half-truth?

Re:Do they? (5, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735880)

Translation: Did they give us any information that will give us any excuse to excuse the pirates?

Re:Do they? (1)

KillaGouge (973562) | more than 3 years ago | (#33736120)

actually. Translation: did they give any useful information to determine what makes up that 70% of American pirates and if they ever do buy.

Re:Do they? (4, Insightful)

GiveBenADollar (1722738) | more than 3 years ago | (#33736152)

Translation: Did they give us any information that will give us any excuse to excuse the pirates?

This is not a fair statement. If the article had any facts to back up it's numbers then it would be a lot more believable. Just defending the article without questioning it is as bad as defending the pirates without looking at the cost to the developer. Lets agree to this: It's a bad article and proves nothing on it's own.

Re:Do they? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33736158)

Well, pirating if you could pay is one thing, but the only method of paying for apps is Google Checkout which isn't available everywhere that Android phones are available. So, there's clearly something that I'm missing. A lot of people live in areas which don't allow you to pay for the apps even if you want to and have the money to do so.

App developers in other parts of the world, which Google doesn't allow to sell apps, have had to go to lengths to get around that by doing things like selling registration codes for supposedly free apps.

Re:Do they? (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#33736168)

Translation: Did they give us any information that will give us any excuse to excuse the pirates?

Translation: Everybody must be a thief even though there's no proof anything is missing.

Re:Do they? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33736200)

Translation: Did they give us any information that will give us any excuse to excuse the pirates?

Translation: You have already made up your mind and are not interested in any details that would invalidate the conclusion of self-interested developers who have disclosed "research" without any disclosure of research methods.

So (0)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735622)

I don't see what the problem is, the people who are pirating the app wouldn't have bought it anyway so it's not a lost sale.

Or so I'm constantly told.

Re:So (1, Insightful)

hsmith (818216) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735664)

Sure, but what if they are using server resources for their App? What then? Oh, they would have never purchased it anyway! So that bandwidth doesn't matter!

Re:So (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735848)

That is an excellent point.

However if an app depends on a server, authentication can pretty much remove that concern.

Re:So (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33735862)

Wait, what? If unauthorized people have access to your online service, it's your own fault. Providing unique login credentials with each purchase is a pretty obvious solution. If some people leak their credentials to the general public, you can not only ban those accounts but also tie them to the purchaser and sue them.

Re:So (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 3 years ago | (#33736074)

People having server resources for apps should tie the app to the server via some sort of registration code tied to a phone #, email and/or something else. A simple three way sanity check would suffice, and if done right would be no more than a single packet of data each direction.

In fact, If I was an app developer, I'd build such a system into all my apps. I'd give the apps away with a free 3/10/30 day "trial" period. People paying the fee (service) would continue unabated, and get free updates, etc. I'd hope that my apps weren't crap, and people would be willing to simply pay me the $12 year (or whatever) to keep using said app.

But then again, I'm sure many people would balk at $12/yr (three lattes). Can't afford that? You probably shouldn't have a smart phone you cheap bastard.

Re:So (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33736192)

Google doesn't have a way of getting paid by people living in various parts of the world, and won't allow devs in those places to charge either.

At most that's a third of the pirate copies, but it is still a substantial number, and it's a bit dishonest to suggest that those people without the ability to pay would do so.

Re:So (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33736046)

That person I shot would have died anyway so it's not murder.

I bought games (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33735626)

I bought a few android apps and every now and then one fails claims to be unlicensed to I have to install it again.

If I had a pirated apps they wouldn't do that.

Having to be online to use what I paid for when I could use for FREE and while offline what someone else stole annoys me. It makes me feel I'm getting poor value for money.

Re:I bought games (1)

samjam (256347) | more than 3 years ago | (#33736128)

In fact, I'm willing to pay the pirates to remove the DRM from the apps I already paid for.

Need to make incentives.. (3, Informative)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735630)

Google along with the developers need to make incentives for purchasing "legitimate" copies of Android software. For one, it doesn't have a great "gift card" mechanism, yes, you can register a gift card as a Google Checkout card and it does work, but it isn't as seamless as buying an iTunes giftcard, typing in the number and seeing your balance at all times. 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. Markets like the Android market give people a large ego into thinking that people -should- pay $.99 for a few images and sounds it took you a few hours to find on Google then make a quick program to organize them. 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.

Re:Need to make incentives.. (3, Insightful)

f0dder (570496) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735674)

Obligatory when talking about app prices: http://theoatmeal.com/blog/apps [theoatmeal.com]

Re:Need to make incentives.. (1)

gonzocanuck2 (470521) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735750)

Love the link. I wonder how I missed that one on The Oatmeal! I have spent about $60 or so on Android apps for my lovely Nexus One and find the prices are often a pittance for all the usefulness they provide me. If there's a tip jar for free apps, I always donate a small amount. I guess it all boils down to how much a buyer values something (or not). Kind of like how people love dollar stores and then ask why a handmade piece of art or jewellery is priced more than $1.

Re:Need to make incentives.. (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735840)

The thing is though, hardware is certain (well, unless you have a PS3, then Sony disables half the features), I know what my phone can do when I buy it and its been reviewed thoroughly. On the other hand, I have no guarantee that that app will even run decently. And 24 hours isn't really enough to fully review most applications, what happens if an update breaks it? What happens if the game is only like 10 levels? Etc. all those things leave you a feeling of being ripped off, even if it was just for a small amount of money.

Plus, software isn't forever, my phone I can theoretically use for a decade, that app may not run on newer hardware, etc.

Re:Need to make incentives.. (1)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735740)

You can return Apps for a refund (within 24 hours) which is quite a good idea.

http://market.android.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=134336 [android.com]

Re:Need to make incentives.. (1)

SupremoMan (912191) | more than 3 years ago | (#33736038)

That's pretty great feature, and it pretty much removes any excuse for piracy.

Re:Need to make incentives.. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33735776)

After he was done typing, Darkness404 went to the break room. While there, he bought a $0.85 bag of salty chips, and a $1.50 bottle of sugar soda. He ate the chips. He was almost done with the soda but was distracted, and it became warm. So he tossed the last 1/4 of it. Later that day he went on to think about the injustices of paying a one time fee of $0.99 for an application.

Re:Need to make incentives.. (1, Interesting)

ADRA (37398) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Need to make incentives.. (0)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735936)

But the thing is, I know what my lunch is going to be. If I get a Caesar Salad, it is going to be a Caesar Salad, I'm not going to buy a Caesar Salad and it ends up being a bowl of ramen noodles. But that risk is still there when it comes to an app. I'm a type of person who buys things in order to enjoy them in the future, I hate getting ripped off, I'm not going to buy something unless I know I can get good use out of it, with a lot of applications, you simply don't know what you are going to get. Yes, there is a 24 hour return period, but many times that doesn't give you the chance to evaluate it plus its updates. If that $.99 program is going to be rendered useless on my phone a week from now, I'm not going to buy it but I don't know if it will be or not.

Re:Need to make incentives.. (1)

cparker15 (779546) | more than 3 years ago | (#33736172)

I was expecting creamy Caesar dressing, not this thin, runny stuff! If this is what I wanted, I would have ordered Italian dressing! I want a refund!

Re:Need to make incentives.. (1, Interesting)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735964)

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"?

Wrong logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33735658)

Aah, but the reason for the pirate market to appear is most likely that Android apps are not available in other countries.

As this market exists and the morality of providing is quite ok: "people can't buy these apps in my European / Asian country anyway, so noone loses money if provide apps for the people of my country", the genie is out of the box.

Later on the US users catch up and start downloading from the same site.

What Google needs to do is to start selling in local markets all over the place.

Kids these days? (4, Insightful)

courtarro (786894) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735708)

Android Market apps are mostly super cheap. Who can't afford $1 on a game they'll play for a few days non-stop? Or a few bucks on a ROM management app? Prices for most paid apps are so low that I imagine that the largest barrier to entry is not price, but the effort required to set up one or more credit cards. My hypothesis, for that reason, is that a large portion of the piracy comes from the age 15-20 crowd who have fancy phones and lots of free time to figure out piracy options, but no credit card(s).

Google can greatly reduce this kind of piracy by working out pricing deals with the carriers to allow charges to appear on phone bills. How else would the ringtone industry thrive as it has? Verizon certainly doesn't offer a direct-bill Android Market option. Maybe this is already the case on other carriers? How does piracy compare in those cases?

Another annoyance of the Market is currency conversion. I've bought apps for sale in both Yen and Euros, and for those purchases I had to set up a Visa card since my AMEX didn't support foreign purchases (on the Market, at least). Most users don't want to deal with that kind of crap ... again, piracy is easier. Can't Google Checkout handle currency conversion on the developer's end without hassling end-users?

Re:Kids these days? (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735770)

Let's also not forget that there's no way to "return" an app or even to politely ask for your money back. If the app doesn't work, you're screwed.

I can see why piracy is an attractive option.

Re:Kids these days? (2, Informative)

KillaGouge (973562) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735816)

So not all apps fall under the 24hr return policy the Android Market has?

Re:Kids these days? (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735976)

Any serious application is going to take weeks if not months to QA. 24 hours is meaningless.

Re:Kids these days? (3, Insightful)

KillaGouge (973562) | more than 3 years ago | (#33736134)

If the apps are as broken as people have said, then 24 hours should be more than enough time to see that they are broken.

Re:Kids these days? (3, Insightful)

zombieChan51 (1862028) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735930)

There's no way to get my quarter back after buying bubble gum, if I didn't like the flavor or it was to hard I'm screwed. Doesn't mean I should go and break the machine and steal all the bubble gum.

Re:Kids these days? (2, Insightful)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 3 years ago | (#33736084)

Doesn't mean I should go and break the machine and steal all the bubble gum.

No, but if you could somehow taste the gum before you buy it I'll bet you would.

Re:Kids these days? (1)

beanyk (230597) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735956)

Let's also not forget that there's no way to "return" an app or even to politely ask for your money back. If the app doesn't work, you're screwed.

According to Androd Market, you can return the app for a refund within 24 hours:

http://market.android.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=134336 [android.com]

Does this not work for you?

(I'm just parroting the link given a few posts above -- I haven't tried this myself)

Re:Kids these days? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33736010)

You're wrong. You can return any app and get a refund within 24 hours.

Re:Kids these days? (1)

KillaGouge (973562) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735772)

Thank you for the information on the Verizon Android Market. I was thinking of getting an Android phone from them, thinking it would be like the store they have now. You buy the app, get charged on your bill.

If more carriers moved to that, I think the piracy numbers might go down.

all things equal, ease of use wins.

Re:Kids these days? (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735784)

"Google can greatly reduce this kind of piracy by working out pricing deals with the carriers to allow charges to appear on phone bills. How else would the ringtone industry thrive as it has? Verizon certainly doesn't offer a direct-bill Android Market option. Maybe this is already the case on other carriers? How does piracy compare in those cases?"

Mod Up "Insightful as Fuck!" Easy money.

Re:Kids these days? (0)

Nossie (753694) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735834)

"Or a few bucks on a ROM management app? "

So you stop piracy by encouraging piracy?

Not that I'm saying playing old games you played years ago and the methods of doing so is wrong... but most of them are still licensed after all.

Re:Kids these days? (3, Insightful)

kidgenius (704962) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735954)

How is a ROM management app encouraging piracy? I use Koush's ROM Manager to install (and keep up to date), my install of Cyanogen Mod for my droid. Where's the piracy? Cyanogen had an issue with Google a while back, but they've both come to a reconciliation that works well for both parties, and no piracy of google's apps are taking place.

Re:Kids these days? (1)

mdw2 (122737) | more than 3 years ago | (#33736118)

parent post appears to be thinking that you're talking about ROMs from old video game consoles and probably doesn't have an android phone. Being able to manage your android ROMs is damn useful.

Re:Kids these days? (1)

RebootKid (712142) | more than 3 years ago | (#33736076)

I think the poster was referring to ROMs used by the phone, i.e. Cyanogenmod and the like. Those aren't piracy.

Re:Kids these days? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33735942)

Dead on analysis.

No wonder SaaS seems so appealing (3, Insightful)

dave562 (969951) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735744)

It seems to come down to the inescapable fact that if you sell your code, it will be stolen and/or passed along to others. On the other hand, if you simpy put a paywall in front of your code and charge people for a subscription, you can avoid getting financially ass-raped by all of the cheap bastards out there.

When I was a kid heavily involved in the warez scene, I didn't really understand what the big deal was when people complained about piracy. Now that I work for a living and earn money using computers, I get it. Life is too short to go to work every day and crank out code, only to have it ripped off by some cheap bastard.

People seem to miss the fact that it takes time and effort to write code. If a person feels it isn't that difficult, they should do it themselves rather than steal from someone else. All of the defenses along the lines of, "It doesn't cost anything to reproduce, therefore it should be free for me." are a big fat load of crap. It amazes me how morally corrupt a good sized segment of our society is.

Re:No wonder SaaS seems so appealing (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735910)

Ahhh, no.

People know it takes effort.

Don't presume the idiots you hung around with represent a 'good sized' segment. they don't. If they did, iTunes wouldn't have sold billions of songs.

Re:No wonder SaaS seems so appealing (4, Interesting)

bieber (998013) | more than 3 years ago | (#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?

Re:No wonder SaaS seems so appealing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33736112)

It doesn't work out that way though. Putting up a pay wall makes you, the developer, feel better because there's less piracy, but it doesn't make you more money. There will always be cheap bastards out there. You do nothing but limit the exposure of your software to the public by making it harder to access. The people who were pirating your app before aren't suddenly going to be like "oh yeah, now we *have* to pay, lets do that", they're going to go find someone else's software to pirate.

If we take the summary as an example then if it had been impossible to pirate they probably would have sold 2500 copies instead of the 2831 they actually sold. Fewer people would have known about their app since there would be fewer copies floating around to see a friend using.

It's absolute myth that stopping piracy turns the other 5000 pirated copies into sales. It just doesn't work that way.

Re:No wonder SaaS seems so appealing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33736116)

You sound like a self-righteous git for someone "heavily involved in the warez scene" as a kid.

I should have been a Pirate (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735798)

Like I was in the 80s/90s. Best time of my life. Met lots of cool people.
But instead I became a legitimate hardware engineer.
Now I'm a megacorp serf. :-|

What about the iPhone (2, Interesting)

MBCook (132727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735844)

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)".

fix the spam google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33735874)

30% of apps have a spam link under them to go to a wares site for apps. I click mark as spam but surely google which has the best spam filtering for gmail could filter urls since I keep flagging comments with the same nonmangled urls.

Real simple google, now filter!

Is revenue still increasing? (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735886)

Piracy rate is meaningless. You can have a 0% piracy rate easily, just don't release your app. The only thing that matters is revenue. You're better off having 1000 paying customers and 1,000,000,000 pirates than you are having 100 customers and no pirates at all.

Re:Is revenue still increasing? (1)

Even on Slashdot FOE (1870208) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735980)

Not according to the *AA groups. They will tell you that each pirate causes them to lose more money than each song/movie/program costs in the store. I don't know how, but their argument seems to be persuasive.

Re:Is revenue still increasing? (1)

SupremoMan (912191) | more than 3 years ago | (#33736052)

I agree. As a matter of fact knowing the piracy rate is nothing but a headache. You are better off just knowing how many people bought the app and ignoring the rest.

Spyware on mobile phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33735894)

How did they get this data ? Spyware and phonehome crap on phones seems to be rampant
perhaps a Firewall should be mandatory on these devices if only to stop this marketing obsession with "analytics" (or spying on their users for want of more accurate word)

im glad i havent got a smartphone, stick a packet sniffer on a phone (iphone or android) and the amount of callbacks to 3rd party surveillance companies and random servers is staggering, no wonder the Linux beards are always talking about cannot see the source code = no install, it would seem they are right.

if your software phones home then i as a user charge for that service data at a rate thats exactly the cost of your app, so piracy isnt applicable as its simply an exchange, you did see my T&C located in /home/T&C.txt on my phone right ?.

Those numbers mean nothing (1, Insightful)

airfoobar (1853132) | more than 3 years ago | (#33735970)

Instead of looking at how many pirated copies there are, how about looking at how many non-pirated copies there are? Is your product making a profit, in spite of these figures?

Not every pirated copy is a lost sale. I can't stress that enough. Make the most of what you have instead of making mountains out of molehills.

Maybe they will eventually 'get' it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33735984)

Seems to me that the people have spoken.. They don't want to pay for this kind of stuff.

Why don't devs 'get' it? The majority have spoken.

I thought everything had to be free now (1)

realinvalidname (529939) | more than 3 years ago | (#33736082)

This being /., I'm surprised the blurb doesn't rail against the developers' propriertary code and "closed" distribution scheme, and encourage them to make back their investment through "alternative revenue models", such as giving away the app for free and then selling t-shirts with its icon.

It's not piracy, it's an appallling refusal to give away one's work for free.

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