Tunabelly Software

Our apps are being pirated

I decided to write a post about the fact that pretty much all of Tunabelly's Mac apps are being pirated/stolen (although from now on, we'll just use the term pirated) daily.

First off, let's look at some numbers for TG Pro which is a great example. It's an app sold directly through the website (as opposed to the Mac App Store) and it uses the Paddle framework for the licensing and activation. It also has a free trial, so the argument that people download cracked copies to try it doesn't apply here.

On May 6th, 2015 there were 6 sales of TG Pro. The same day there were at least, wait for it...138 new pirated copies. So that means that for this particular day, 23 times more copies were pirated than purchased. And this isn't an anomaly for that day. This ratio is pretty consistent across days, weeks and months.

So what can be done about this? Lots, although there are diminishing returns as the anti-piracy measures increase. It can get to the point where a developer is spending a ludicrous amount of time trying to beat the pirates and all it takes is one determined (and a semi to good) cracker to break it. Here's what it comes down to:

Developers who make a living making apps have a limited amount of time to spend on anti-piracy measures. Crackers have unlimited time and it only takes one of them to break it.

The best any developer can hope for is to make it hard for casual pirating and hope to convert any people that do try the pirated copy into buying a legitimate license. In fact, just the other day, I got this tweet: One of those times you download a cracked app but its so good and so worth $12 bucks that you buy it. HandsFree WORTH THE MONEY That was pretty amazing to see, so there is hope!

If you are a developer, here are some tips to help out:

  • Make it easy for people to purchase your app, for example allow it inside the app without having to go into a web browser.
  • Price it so that people feel they are getting good value for their money. Don't be afraid to price it above $0.99.
  • Have a trial version available so it's easy for potential customers to give it a try. Most people will go this route as opposed to finding a pirated copy that may include all sorts of malware.
  • Treat your paying customers well. This includes support, adding requested features and listing to their complaints.

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