What piracy is costing one iPhone developer

May 15, 2009

A first-time coder’s experience with the dark side of selling software via Apple’s category-defining iTunes App Store  was both better and worse than expected.

Miguel Sanchez-Grice has written a detailed blog posting (via TUAW) on his experiences with and conclusions about piracy of his popular tank battle game iCombat (iTunes). Even though he’s experiencing a piracy rate north of 60 percent (there are different ways to parse the data below), Sanchez-Grice is neither angry nor bitter, and advocates a practical approach to the issue in his conclusions about the problem:

This is one way to not get paid (6,537 x $1.99 ) $13,008.63

1) Piracy is still not that big of a problem when talking about the apps with larger download volumes

2) Blocking pirates is not worth it unless you can push conversion by giving them a lite style version
— Strategically structure the cracked game so pirates get the upsell

3) Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face
— The competition is so fierce to get noticed in the App store that any attention is good attention.

See also:
One in five App Store titles available on pirate sites …
iCab Mobile 1.0: Great, easy to access features and, yes, porn mode too…
InstallerApp: Put whatever apps you want on your iPhone

Going forward, Sanchez-Grice has decided he will release a “lite” version to tempt pirates away from the torrents and help preserve the value of iCombat, which is an increasingly common strategy. This approach, which can be viewed as at least a partial surrender to hackers and pirates, seeks to balance the need to put food on the table and allow users, both paying and otherwise, their dignity.

Between a rock and a…

If you were an iPhone developer, what approach would you choose: 1.) remotely cripple all pirated copies, 2.) pester pirates with nagging pop ups, or 3.) follow iCombat model and seek a middle path?

Whatever your position there doesn’t seem to be one single correct answer…

What’s your take?

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