Jailbreak, app piracy, and the true cost of theft

Now that the iOS 5.1.1 jailbreak is available for the iPhone 4S, new iPad, and older devices, the subject of jailbreak in general is getting a lot of attention again, and with it, the dark side of jailbreaking. It seems whenever someone wants to attack the very concept of jailbreak, one of the first salvos unleashed is app piracy. The sad, ugly truth is that those attacks are made possible because some people who jailbreak do so mainly or entirely to get "free" apps. And the sadder, uglier truth is that there's no such thing as "free". Everything has a cost. Even and especially theft.

We're going to use the words "theft" and "steal" here instead of piracy because that's what we're talking about. Steve Jobs once raised a pirate flag at Apple as a symbol of their counterculture and ideals, and the jailbreak community has embraced that spirit.

By no means has the jailbreak community embraced theft.

Both iMore and Mobile Nations have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to even the discussion of piracy. We place an incredibly high value on developers and the apps they make, and don't want to play any part, directly or indirectly, in disseminating information that hurts developers, the iOS platform, and the legitimate jailbreak community.

Likewise, prominent jailbreak developers have gone out of their way, numerous times, to distance themselves from app theft and ask those using their software not to steal apps.

There's a reason for that. App theft is not a victimless crime. It hurts the iOS platform, it hurts iOS developers, and because of that, it ultimately hurts iOS users.

Stealing apps isn't free. It comes with a very real cost.

Getting the excuses out of the way

For years people have been copying CDs, DVDs, Blu-Ray movies, games, and anything else they could get their hands on. Ever since media became copyable, people have been copying it. Some have applied philosophical wrappers around it -- that all bits should be free. Others think that since the original version remains, copies don't equate to theft -- you're not taking it away from anyone else. Others justify their actions based on the hostility often displayed towards users by traditional media companies.

The law does allow for copying in some situations, in some jurisdictions. It sometimes allows for copying to make a backup or change format, for example ripping a CD to iTunes or copying iTunes music to a disk. But none of them make allowances for theft.

Another common excuse is availability and price -- if content could only be bought immediately, and at a fair cost, there'd be no content theft. Game of Thrones is the most common current example. HBO won't release it for sale for months, so users go elsewhere to get it. If HBO would only put it on iTunes, Amazon, etc. in a timely manner, the argument goes, no one would be going elsewhere.

Well guess what -- in almost all cases, the App Store and apps do just that.

And not only that, apps are incredibly inexpensive by any reasonable standard. Paid apps are often $0.99 and most iPhone apps top out at $4.99 with very few exceptions. In most cases they're not only less than a cup of coffee or a movie, but substantially less.

Also, Apple allows users to re-download purchased apps. If you deleted an app by accident, it stopped working right, or you got a new iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch you have the ability to re-download your content without having to re-purchase anything. Your purchases are tied to your iTunes ID, not a specific device. Apple even allows you to authorize content on up to 5 computers and, when it comes to apps, practically as many iOS devices as you'd like.

Easily available, cheaply and fairly priced, and automatically backed up. That removes many of the rationalizations and justifications.

Note: There are some regions that don't support the App Store, or specific parts of the App Store, due to local policies on rating requirements or other licensing issues. In those particular cases, in those particular places, stealing apps may seem like the only way for these users to obtain App Store apps or games. This problem typically arises in countries that don't carry the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, in areas where iTunes payments are difficult or challenging, or where Apple is simply not allowed to provide a legitimate service. Still there are legitimate workarounds, like using a U.S. App Store account and loading it with gift cards. If you want to support developers, you'll find a way.

The cost to app developers

Free Cut the Rope: Experiements HD game for iPad

When you jailbreak to steal apps you're essentially taking money out of someone's hand, whether it's an independent developer or a development company. App development takes a lot of time and a lot of money.

Apps can and do cost tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop. That means every sale is important and can make all the difference to a developer -- the difference between continuing an app or canceling it, making payroll or not making it, feeding their family or not feeding them.

If recent statistics are accurate, almost 60% of developers don't break even on costs when developing and executing an app. These costs typically involve marketing, development, graphic design fees, software licensing, and anything else that goes into submitting a fully polished app to the App Store.

These costs don't stop once the app is submitted to the App Store. If the app uses push notifications or has a web server back end, that costs money. Sometimes a lot of money. If a developer wants to provide technical support to their users, a service we've all come to expect, that's also a lot of money. There are considerable recurring costs for any development team that plans on supporting their app and updating it regularly.

Making, maintaining, supporting, and updating an app is incredibly expensive. And there's no promise every developer will ever get all that money back.

That's the cost to developers, and to users who may get less apps developed or updated because of it.

The cost to Apple

iPhone 4S siri hero

Apple owns the iOS platform. Anything that hurts developers hurts Apple. To that end, Apple has tried to implement services such as in-app purchases and iAds so developers can keep prices down and still earn a living. Yet there's more Apple can and should do.

There have been several developers who have reported seeing more players active on Game Center than have actually purchased their game via the App Store. Sometimes by a factor of 10 or more. There needs to be a way to shut stolen apps out of Game Center so there's less incentive to use the stolen versions of games. iTunes knows which apps we've bought. If a game isn't on our purchased list, it shouldn't work in Game Center. That removes the ego gratification of leader boards and the fun of multiplayer unless and until a legitimate copy of an app is purchased.

The same could be done with iCloud for non-game apps. If an app isn't on our purchased list, it doesn't sync, it doesn't back up.

I'm not pretending to know how complicated such a system would be to deploy, or how much it would disincentivize app theft, but it doesn't seem beyond the realm of possibility.

The more popular an app or game is, the higher the likelihood it will be stolen, and the less money a developer will make from it. If developers find they can't make enough money, they'll stop developing those popular apps. That not only hurts users who want great software, but it hurts the platform.

That's the cost to Apple.

The cost to jailbreak's reputation

I've been jailbreaking since iOS 1.x and I've never once stolen an app. For myself and many others out there, jailbreak is a tool to add functionality to our iPhones, iPads, Apple TVs, and iPods -- functionality that Apple won't or hasn't give us stock. I actually think I've spent almost as much money on jailbreak apps as I have stock apps. Yet even though many jailbreakers don't steal apps, the conception that jailbreak is a gateway to app theft is impossible to escape.

I've had people come to me for help with their iPhone, people that don't even know how to use iCloud, but who know all the ins and outs of app theft. They can't be bothered to back up their own data but they'll spend hours and hours figuring out how to screw a developer out of $0.99 or $4.99.

And they cost jailbreak its reputation. They enable jailbreak to be called a tool for app theft instead of a breeding ground for innovation. They enable those who would like to see jailbreak made illegal to couch their self-interest in the flag of criminal justice.

That's the cost paid by the jailbreak community, and by those who jailbreak for legitimate reasons.

The cost to users

I'm not here to give anyone a lecture on morals or ethics. If you're stealing apps, one article probably won't change your mind. Maybe you already know that you're costing developers money, that you're tarnishing the reputation of the jailbreak community, and maybe even that you're hurting the iOS platform. Perhaps you've justified it to yourself by saying developers are rich and you're copying not stealing, or you don't care about the jailbreak community, or that Apple has so much money nothing could ever hurt iOS.

But what about us?

We're all connected.

If you're stealing apps it's because you want apps. Keep stealing them, and the quality and quantity of apps will eventually diminish. If you're jailbreaking, you need the jailbreak community to keep releasing tools for jailbreak. Keep using jailbreak to steal apps and either laws using you as an excuse, or jailbreak developers fed up with how you're misusing their tools will stop providing them. And all of this is dependent on Apple not figuring out a way to shut it all down or make it so time consuming that it might as well be shut down.

I'd like to envision a strong future for jailbreak and for stock iOS. Stealing apps is simply the right way to get all the wrong attention, and to hurt everything you enjoy.

On the other hand, buying the apps you like rewards developers for their hard work and helps ensure they can continue to update those apps, and make more of them, now and into the future. It shows the world that jailbreak is about adding functionality and not stealing money. And it shows Apple that their time and attention is better spent being inspired by jailbreak rather than shutting it down.

If that's not enough, consider the threat: On desktop computers, it's not unheard of for bad guys to modify stolen apps before distributing them, infecting them with malware to infect systems and steal information. That's not meant a as scare tactic, but a warning. "Free" could eventually come at the price of your

Losing apps, losing jailbreak tools, and ultimately losing jailbreak is the cost to users.


What does the future of iOS mean for the future of jailbreak?

For years we've been clamoring for great content, readily available and priced fairly. With the App Store, we have it. The best defense against accusations that jailbreak is all about app theft is simply not to steal apps. The best way to get more great apps is simply to buy the great apps we have today.

There's no such thing as free. Even theft has its price. And we can all choose not to pay it.

Allyson Kazmucha

iMore senior editor from 2011 to 2015.

  • Very nicely written. Jailbreaking and app theft are not one in the same, a few bad apples allow people to blur the two and its up to the community and articles such as this to redraw the line...
  • Well done.
  • I really want to make excuses for piracy, but when apps are so cheap I really don't see any justification. However, as mobile technology becomes more complex, I do not think small developers can survive. Also, I don't think that 60% of those developers not being able to cover their costs is because of piracy. As mobile apps become big business, small developers will disappear, and prices will go up.
    One thing that was missed in the article was the risk of the app code being modified. Not sure if this has been done before for an iPhone app, but with computers, viruses, trojans, key logging etc., can be added.
    Anyway, very well done Allyson.
  • 1
  • Re: "They can't be bothered to back up their own data but they'll spend hours and hours figuring out how to screw a developer out of $0.99 or $4.99."
    These clowns make me sick. They're the reason why Apple will eventually kill off jailbreaking once and for all.
    It's inevitable.
  • They could try, but impossibilities tend not to be inevitable.
    (Agreed on the clowns though)
  • Honestly, cliche as it sounds, there IS truth to the "If they want so badly to steal it, they probably wouldn't have bought it anyway" argument.
    It's a shame, and those users still need a slap upside their heads, but the people that steal have such a minimal impact towards the real numbers that I cannot imagine it being such a deathly fear for Apple or the Developers.
    I remember reading an article from a developer who created a fairly specific app designed for kids stating that there was a major influx in pirated app usage shortly after it was released. Now, in reality was that honestly from would-be buyers to your app, or is it from the mass thrives who would just download anything because they can and that's where the traffic is from. I believe it's from the latter.
    But no one really knows. I'm sure if people put their energy into it, they'd see obvious influx of piracy as soon as a jailbreak is released, but hell, people had to roll with a stock OS for months upon months when their various idevice launched, they obviously couldn't steal then...
    I'd really like to see real numbers.
    First, how many jailbreakers there are, then how many that run various stolen apps/games and such. I sometimes think that there is more risk for theft of the jailbreak apps (bitesms, lockinfo, etc) than of App Store stuff.
    Until more devs start to share real numbers, we're left with a big question mark. As Dev A could have seen a 200% spike in stolen apps, which sounds lime a ton, but not if you're dealing with developers that sell maybe 50 copies, and have, say, 100 steal their creation.
  • Very well written!!
  • Wrong. All her arguments depend on the basis that pirates would have paid for the apps they pirate--aka 'potential sales'. The truth is they wouldn't.
    Most people who pirate wouldn't have bought the app anyway, and for those that would, piracy is the only means of a demo. Besides, piracy spreads awareness and increases the likelihood that paying customers will see your app.
    This doesn't hurt developers at all. What does truly hurt developers is when script kiddies pirate stuff off of indie devs' private servers, costing them real money. (Case in point: Project Zomboid - http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/06/20/project-zomboid-stricken-by-p...)
  • There's no way to tell if someone would or wouldn't pay for a an app, especially not at a $0.99 price tag.
    Likewise, if developers WANT to spread word and provide demos, they can release LITE and FREE versions of their apps.
    If they choose not to, and you steal it, your STEALING it. It might make you feel good to rationalize that you're helping them. You're not. Help them by buying their app so they can afford to support it and make another one.
  • just want to point out that both your arguments are valid... so neither of you (even you rene) should feel like the other is wrong.
    both arguments are situational.
  • There's a continuum between right and wrong, but our rights sometimes end when they wrong others :)
  • it all depends on how you define right and wrong :)
  • i think this is true. there is merit to both arguments. there is not garuantee i'd buy all the apps ive pirated. i won't. And there's not telling whether "everybody" will buy an app at 99c or not.
    i don't use twitter often but i tried 6 or 7 pay twitter clients simply because i could. If i didn't jailbreak i'd use a free twitter client simply because i use twitter maybe 3 times a month to check a few people. It's not worth the cost. Second were i inclined to paying for a twitter app i'd have only paid for one, i'd never had paid for 7 simply to test 7. i'd never burn money like that'. i'd research, choose one, and live with my choice. even for just 99c i wouldn't just take a chance.
    Another thing is take games. i got two extremely popular but, i think over $7 games. If i was capable of paying i'd never buy those. Games are not that interesting to me and even after having pirated versions i don't play them. Free games satisfy me more.
    then there are a few cases where i would buy an app i pirate. it's rare but there are a few.
  • Replace "App Store" with "Hollywood" and "jailbreak+download" with "torrent" and I suspect you'd be singing a different tune.
  • exact same tune. making illegal copies of music or movies is still against the law. they are all covered in this country by the copyright act. It changes nothing that it's a torrent. Some person or group of people paid millions to make movies or music and in doing so they get the right to copy and distribute that artform. That i use a torrent, and i have, doesn't justify what i've done. it doesn't make it right. it doesn't change the violation. people just want to rationalize stuff. They need to at least be man enough to admit what they are doing.
  • Ummmm...that was the point...it is the same thing, just not to Rene and many commenters here.
  • You can call it "hollywood" as a pejorative, like that changes stuff but those are real people funding those movies. Sometimes investing 10s of millions of their own money to make movies. And if it's sold to a studio they employ writers, seamstresses, makeup, catering, office staff, medical professionals, safety people, accountants, lawyers, sales people, etc etc etc. And there are tons of businesses like camera rental companies and film distribution companies etc that live off the industry. And they support communities all over Burbank, studio city, and all the other towns in all directions that thrive off of the economy. The tax revenue from employing those people funds education, fire and safety in those communities allows them to buy a home and pay property taxes that support their community. many of which are in dire financial straights. Saying "hollywood" doesn't change anything. These are people. They live off the work that what you smuggly call "hollywood" like it's evil do. Their jobs endure off the profits of the films, tv, books, music etc they make, the content and media they make. They aren't the Taliban or anything. They aren't Blackwater security. They don't kill people. So to act like somehow they deserve to have their businesses harmed i think is wrong and simplistic. That they somehow deserve to have their businesses stolen is laughable.
  • and totally agree. people can rationalize but they are still stealing it. you're right.
  • That's what they tell themselves, anyway.
  • This maybe true, but also totally irrelevant. Why? The app developer gets to decide who gets access to their copyrighted app or not. They chose to sell it via Apple, they did not decide to give it away for free.
    No amount of argument or whether people would have bought or not is any form of justification.
    In addition to this, when it comes to backend servers for push, etc the more 'free' users actually HARMS the system for REAL customers. The more pirated users you have to support the less server resources you have available for true customers.
  • This is a joke right? While I realize that good devs should be supported, there are far too many bad devs to justify a zero tolerance attitude to copying apps. A better model is the one commonly employed by Indy android devs who release free apps and have a PayPal link in settings to donate what you can if you like the app. the poor attitude of devs who expect me to front them money with no assurance of a finished product being delivered is laughable.
    Also shedding tears for Apple's bottom line is ridiculous.
    Also, this poorly written article claimed that file sharing IS theft, explained how by retaining the original copy it ISN'T theft, then concluded with no new evidence that it IS theft.
    Is imore in bed with the RIAA/MPAA now or something?
  • utterly poor reasoning. Bad devs deserve to be pirated? Ridiculous. just like a bad record or a good record a bad app or good app or mean singer or nice singer has the same rights when they make a copyrighted work. Their rights don't change because you don't like them or their work.
    Apple's bottom line is apple's. i'm not shedding a tear but it's their work. I have no right to it.
    In bed with riia? Look at the bottom of this page. See that copyright symbol? It's their for a reason. Guess what pretty much every website is in favor of not having their copyrighted content reproduced without their permission. What do you think Mobilenations would do if i opened my own website named mobilenationsx, with imorex, crackberryx, and webosxetc, and started verbatim cutting and pasting ever single article they wrote onto my website, copied every image on the sight, essentially cloned the sight and put my name only on it and started getting ad dollars and page views from them? They'd at the very least send a strongly worded cease and desist letter based correctly on their copyrights claims. And they'd be correct. In bed with RIIA? They don't need to be in bed with them to be square with copyright laws across the globe.
    "claimed that file sharing IS theft, explained how by retaining the original copy it ISN'T theft, then concluded with no new evidence that it IS theft." i'm not exactly sure what part of the article you're referring to but i think you confuse the right of a purchaser to make a backup for their own purposes, with the right to make copies for other purposes or the the right to distribute copies over the internet by filesharing with a purchaser does not have merely by buying a cd of dvd.
  • Isnt that what imore does? They read articles from other websites and rewrite here. Nonsense. Bloggers are the worst form of media. They don't need to back up anything they write and pretty much they can say anything they want. Hence many childish post you see here. Secondly now going on topic, I have gotten ripped off so many times in the AppStore that I will never buy again. I am not jailbroken and I don't plan to pirate garbage. I haven't bought an app since last year christmas. Noone will get my money.
  • Spoken like a typical thief. EVERYTHING SHOULD BE FREE CAUSE THEY HAVE MORE THAN ME. Also the code of the shoplifter, bankrobber, mugger.
  • Hahaha you people are ridiculous. Yes BAD DEVELOPMENT DESERVES PIRACY. If you can't produce a complete product you can't expect full payment.
    Also @9wonder, plagiarism is not the same as file sharing. So I have no idea where you got that from.
    The logic behind file sharing is sound. To steal is to remove something from your possession. Copying doesn't remove the original so it doesn't fit within the definition of theft.
    Like I said, good indy development deserves support and I'm happy to pay what something is worth. Big data mining corporations and bad developers shouldn't expect anything.
    To reiterate @Lou, I've never stolen anything. my copy of dead space doesn't mean anyone who wanted it next couldn't get it, just that EA couldn't get my money. Ergo nothing was taken, merely reproduced in an unofficial way.
  • oh really? The original stays there so it's not theft? Try explaining that to Mark Zukerburg and Facebook. Facebook was a stolen idea and they have to pay millions for it. Let me rephrase what you are actually saying "I DON'T UNDERSTAND THE DEFINITION OF THEFT" Capital enough for you? :)
  • You are damn freakin right
  • You're right in everything here, but such theft goes both ways. EA is notorious for stealing from its customers. Just ask Rock Band users. Sure, the game didn't stop working, but all of our DLC is gone from both Rock Band games. No explanation, no apology, no refund. Why is it OK for EA to steal from me? I won't pirate apps (and I don't jailbreak either), but I would understand anyone who "steals" apps back from EA.
  • Some companies suck at support. The way I've dealt with them is to stop buying their media. I know I'm just one person but many people have that mentality. If they had a bad experience, they'll remember their name even more than they would a good experience, and they'll probably shy away.
    Not in all cases, but most dig their own graves or get hurt on their own that way.
  • that's bad but technically that's not cutting both ways. That's not copyright infringement what EA did. It's bad customer service yes but what they are not doing is taking content that you, the customer created, and making a copy and redistributing it. Now it's stupid and bad PR but it is not analogous.
  • Leaving all reasons and justifications for pirating apps aside, there is only one way to stop it, and that would be stopping jailbreaks. I have my iOS devices jailbroken myself, but I accept that there's no way around. While a jailbreak exists for an iOS device, piracy will exist too. And this depends on jailbreakers, as they are the only ones who can make the cat & mouse game stop. Apple cannot achieve this, as there will always be a hole in the OS to exploit.
  • As with other platforms and services, I wouldn't be surprised if the "dark side" of jailbreaking is actually one of the greatest factors in its viability. Perhaps scores more are interested in jailbreaking so that they can beat the system. They boost the numbers (and probably do buy some stuff) and make it look like the platform's got legs. And apparently, it does.
    I also agree with the above poster that the writer cannot be sure that those who "steal" apps (sorry, but I do think there are worthwhile distinctions in there) represent lost revenue, because we do not know if he or she would have purchased it.
    I saw that Rene disagreed with the poster, saying that we don't know what the "thief" would've or would not have purchased. That's kind of the point.
    Yet, despite all that I've typed here, I also agree with the writer that I dislike how that "theft" casts a shadow on the jailbreak community as a whole. I don't steal apps and I don't "steal" apps. I just have a serious problem with some of the restrictions Apple and the carriers have placed on these devices.
    To make this even LONGER, I guess that one could say that jailbreaking at all is "stealing" because those who get apps (paid-for or not) from Cydia might've gotten spent that money or time in the official app store. It's a leap, but not much more than saying someone who grabbed App X for free would've paid for it, if there'd been no free option.
  • A pirated app is not downloaded from the app store and not tracked as a download for that app. So solely counting iAds revenue, any pirate download does create a revenue loss for a developer.
    Conversely, by not downloading even the free trial versions or even free premium version promos from those developers that have historically burnt me, and other consumers, on app downloads (the above mentioned EA comes to mind)I can actively cut into the iAds revenue (and other revenue streams) of those shady developers. I tend to be less forgiving of larger developers/software publishers, such as EA, that have the resources to do it right and give users great app expreinces but have failed where so many indy developers, with less resources, have delivered.
  • Excellent article. Bravo. Proud jailbreaker and not a pirate.
  • First off, excellent piece. I agree with you 120% but you left out one very important piece. You also have to take into account the end user demographics. How many jailbreakers are teens? I work in an inner city high school where a large number of students own ipod touches because their parents saved up to buy them as gifts. however, they do not work and do not have access to credit cards, even gift cards in this community are not easy to use since most cant afford to have internet at home. I'm not saying its ok, that these teens pir...um.. steal apps, but that it is our responsibility as adults to set the example.
  • I feel so guilty for jail breaking after reading this and I don't even pirate apps. I paid even for jailbreak apps. Not everybody pirates stuff. If devs are looking that much mone they need to find a work around. Business take losses every year even to shoplifters. So is the app store immune to financial loss? Yea I don't think so.
  • I am sorry but you forgot to wrote that Apple is the richest company in the world and that they still are taking a piece of the money the developers earn. Oh, and btw: Y'ARR!
  • ^+1,000
    It's a pirates life for me....
  • As a developer I'm quite comfortable with the amount of copyright infringement on the app store; it's low enough to ignore. Please use language more carefully; copyright infringement's is not theft or stealing.
  • Once again, you see only your side of the story. USA is not the only country in the world using iDevices and there are different economy everywhere. There are many countries which are poorer and don't have enough money to spend it on apps. I used to pirate myself, however now I have enough money to spend on apps and don't even bother jailbreaking
  • Are you serious? You're saying the same people who drop $300+ an iPhone don't have .99 to spend on an app? Your logic doesn't add up.
  • Used iPhone 3g or 3GS costs about 200$, and you can find an iPod touch for less than 70$. In that case paying for an app 4.99 which is more than 10% of your device is ridiculous.
  • Rubbish you are NOT getting an iPhone for $70, you pay for it as part of your monthly mobile tariff. If you can afford to buy a $300 device (even as part of a hire purchase agreement) you can afford the occassional $0.99 app
  • The Jailbreak community, no matter how noble the intent, has to take 100% of the blame for the theft of iOS apps. If you are the ones blowing the lock off the safe, you are responsible for what gets stolen from it.
    You want extra features that the iPhone doesn't have, but that comes at the price of the devs. I say either live with the limitations or move to another device. It's your phone but NOT your OS to tinker with. iOS is not android.
  • "The Jailbreak community, no matter how noble the intent, has to take 100% of the blame for the theft of iOS apps."
    Then by your logic, 100% of gun manufactures are responsible for every death by a gun. How about 100% of baseball bat manufactures are responsible for every beating received by a baseball bat. 100% of knife manufactures are responsible for every stabbing.
    You've basically taking personal responsibility out of the equation. A thief decides to steal because he or she wants to. Nobody or no company pushed them into it.
  • @Really is correct, personal responsibility. I have been jailbreaking since day one and have never stolen a app, in fact I pay for jailbroke apps since the good ones most of the time do cost money. It's crazy how cheap people are.
  • I wish apple would allow the cydia tweaks and themes atleast. I can live without those free apps anyway. Just preload the cydia app onto the stock OS and I'll be a happy camper...
  • Honestly. I'm jailbroken and there's absolutely nothing tweakwise that i need so bad that i'd jailbreak. I have only one jailbreak tweak installed. I really only jailbroke for apps. And honestly only cause i'm broke at the moment. when i'm financially better off i intend to buy all the apps i currently steal because it's not many and i'd simply never have to jailbreak again. And let's not lie, yeah it's stealing. And no i'm not gonna make names for it or try to justify it. No matter what you call it i've made an illegal copy. That's the rule. that's the law. I'm not going to try and rationalize or justify it as right what i do. It's not. But i can't wait till i can afford it. I'm literally live below the poverty level and had a pretty catastrophic medical event that bankrupted me. so when i'm back i'm paying and some apps i stole i i'd probably never pay for either way like expensive games. I enjoy free words with friends of free poker or free chess much more anyways. hell i only got an iphone cause my old phone died and i got a discount and a credit that made it almost the same as a dumbphone.
  • If you live below poverty level, how do you afford any phone or a plan?
    Back on topic.... What Jay should do is make it impossible to get to the hacked sources through Cydia. Cydia should be a safe haven for legit jailbreakers.
  • Agreed on theft(not purchasing)of apps. I for one, would appreciate an option for demo with trial periods per app. Although, that is another topic !
    I do appreciate the ability to customize a users phone for more functional options. Example: Calendar on my lock-screen for future appointments. I do buy Cydia Apps but really like tweaking for functional use.
  • Excellent piece and as an aspiring app developer I agree that there is a cost to everyone when stealing/pirating apps takes place. That being said, I did have what I felt was a justifiable reason to pirate some apps shortly after the first iPad was released. I purchased an iPad in hopes of replacing my tablet laptop that I used for taking notes in class. The iPad offered unparalleled battery life and was at least half the weight of my laptop. There was just one issue, no native handwriting support, so I had to turn to note taking apps, which were prevalent in the App Store. This is where I ran into another problem; 100% of the apps I was looking into for note taking didn't offer a trial period. After looking at some reviews I still wasn't confident in which App I wanted to purchase for my note taking. I was left with only two options, hunt down people that had these apps and ask them if I could try it out or pirate the apps to facilitate my own trial period. Since I didn't know anyone else with an iPad I choose the second option and fully intended to legally purchase the app once I made up my mind. About two weeks and roughly 15-20 note taking apps later I wiped my iPad and sold it on eBay because my college bookstore would not accept returns. I then continued my search for a new tablet laptop that had better battery life than my current one. If the app developers had offered even a 10 minute trial period I would not have needed to pirate their apps nor would I have wanted to. I do Jailbreak my iPhone and have purchased several apps from Cydia and to this day have never needed to pirate apps again. It's just like test driving a car to me, I'm not going to walk into a car dealership and buy the first car I see, I always compare them and take at least two for a test drive. If you don't like that example, think of it as asking the bartender for a sample of that new beer that you want to try; they give you an ounce of beer in the hopes that you will then want to purchase a full pint. Free trials, or samples, exist in almost every other form of market but not in the App Store. Until free trials are offered by more companies in the App Store I don't see the piracy epidemic slowing any time soon.
  • Indeed. When i got my iphone i had to leave my old calendaring program behind. The default calendar was completely worthless for what i needed, and the most promising-looking calendar apps were all on the expensive side. With no ability to trial them out IRL legitimately, i pirated the tgree most promising, and wihin a few days had a winner, all the losers were deleted and i bought the program i judged best. I do not believe tgat the other developers were harmed by fhe piracy, because theyvhad a chance of a sale from it, and i had no intention to use the ones not bought. Its ridiculous to suggest that i should have bought 4 or 5 calendars with prices up to $20 for the privilege of testing and rejecting all but 1. Trial periods are essential for certain types of productivity apps, and the app store needs some sort way to provide them.
    I haven't pirated any other apps. I've bought many apps from both the app store and cydia, as i agree that app and tweak developers deserve to get paid.
  • There is a small percent of "thieves" (myself included) that steal apps/jailbreak tweaks in order to test them.
    You can say that this group of people are somewhat "forced" to steal because the App Store doesn't offer app trials. Sure, devs can make "Lite" versions, but not all do.
    Let me give you an example: I was looking for a podcatcher a year ago and I "stole" all of them, eventually settling on one which I then purchased legitimately. It cost me around $4. If I had to play by the rules, I would've spent $40 on apps I would've launched just once.
  • I agree. I've pirated apps a few times to test them out. Every one that I wound up and meeting my needs, I've purchased and the ones I didn't, I deleted. Case in point, I pirated several image editing iPad apps to find the ones that met my needs, then bought the ones that offered the functionality I wanted. I purchased the ones that did and deleted the ones that didn't.
  • I agree that there are potentially bad things that can come from piracy.
    However, "stealing" and "theft" are not the right words to use. This is more akin to counterfeiting where product is copied, not taken. There is no direct loss to the developer and to automatically assume that every download was a loss sell is entirely disingenuous.
    Beyond that, I am not convinced that app piracy is a big problem or ever will be. The best estimates I've seen put Jailbreaks at ~10% of iOS population, and there are suggestions that the numbers are falling as Apple continues to create a more capable OS. Even if half of those are doing it just to steal apps we're talking about just 5% of the iOS market -- thats not enough to make or break a successful app.
    I'll end this by saying that I am an iOS pirate. Keyword: Pirate. I don't agree with the lack of a proper "try and buy" solution in the App store, so I use it as a way to demo apps and decide which I like better.
  • And let's not forget that most of these things do also apply to pirating Cydia Apps/Tweaks
  • I have to agree with E-Man with apps being so cheap it really makes no sense to steal them . I will admit early one I was one who would spend 10$ on a number 1 at BK and not spend .99$ for an app that woud last me as long as I had the device. Also I would like to point for those who steal apps and depend on them you have to understad that they can go bad on you at anytime this is what make me stop jailbreaking because my iDevice would always act up at the wrong time.
    Now to jump to the other side of why i have returned to jailbreaking: lets be blunt with all the money and technology apple has they could just listen to the consumer and make some of the tweaks made possible by jailbreaking readily available. Right now i have jailbroken my ipad mainly for TV2mirror apple will not lose money if they made this feature available even if they sold it as an app store purchase. I went out and bought the AV composite cables from apple and am using an apple iPad so in the end to make me have to by an apple tv to get a crappy version of mirroring is apple stealing from me now. Secondly apple needs to make a way for people to test an app for a trial before ultimately purchasing it a good example this woud be an app like the "Bible Experience" I already had the CD's and thought that an ioS version would be awesome however 32$ later the app sucks, the developer does not respond to numerous complaints from myself and many others, and till this day the app has yet to be updated. So no matter how self righteous we want to sound or get in the end apple brought this problem upon themselves and ultimately if they wanted to could resolve this with a simple update.
  • What a fantastic article as if it is written by Polyanna. We humans are all angels. Hurray Capitalism !
  • It's always interesting to see how people justify the act of theft.
  • Theft is theft. No matter the excuse, or justification. Some will say if it was not for jail break, there would be no theft of apps. Wrong, they will just find another way. Just like the credit card frauds, the bank frauds. It affects all if us. The developer will have to charge more to recover losses. The banks will tack on fees to recover losses. May be it is a time for a new term. "Team Jailbreak Pure" you jailbreak to never steal an app, or anything. Has a nice ring to it, and even a good feeling inside. Leave the dark side and join team jailbreak pure. iMore feel free to use that new term. You have my permission.
  • Some of the "logic" being applied here toward theft is alarming.
  • If you charge $1000 for something that costs you $1 - is that stealing?
  • I'm afraid not.... It's called capitalism.
  • Well I have to agree with a lot of people posting here. Jailbreaking is not stealing. Stealing is stealing. I jailbreak to save money in the most obvious way. On my monthly phone bill. I need to jailbreak so I can change the APN info to be able to use my phone on a cheaper network. I for one don't want to pay ATT an extra 60-70 a month because apple doesn't make it possible to change my network settings so I can go to H2O or RedPocket and get the same service ATT is stealing an extra 60-70 dollars a month for.
    If I see any app that I think I would like, I would love to have the option to try before I buy, just too many lemons out there. I support everyone I get software from even Adobe and I have sent money by paypal to a dev for a free app because it was so cool.
  • Very nicely written, I support it 98%. :)
    But there is something missing.
    I like to try out an app before I buy. Apple does not allow that functionality. You have to buy to find out that the app does not deliver what it promised. I got screwed like that to many times - because of developers wanting to score quick cash and promising to much in the description / functionality.
    So now I try an app first via jailbreak community and if I am satisfied then I buy it from App store.
    It is not much to pay, but why should I pay for something I am going to delete after disappointing 10 seconds of use?
    This is a very small part of what I use JB comunity (2%), but until Apple enables try out apps I will keep doing it. Money does not grow on threes, so I can throw it away on poorly executed apps.
  • Apple themselves consider jailbreaking wrong. So wouldn't it be even worse for paid jailbreak app makers since they are charging for something that Apple doesn't want you to be able to have and i'm sure they're not giving Apple their 33% of the money their making off of their devices. Seems to me everyone from the top to the bottom is stealing from someone. Looks like the nature of jailbreaking is to steal, don't you think.
  • I've been saying that they should put some anti-piracy stuff into the jailbreak itself. I was saying earlier last week how I wanted to Jailbreak my phone to a coworker, and they said "I pay for all my apps". Took me a while to explain I don't steal apps. I do however wish that they'd enable like a 24 hour trial period or something, at the developer's choice maybe. Since some apps might only have a one time usefullness or whatever.
  • PS: Some coworkers even say "I pay my cell bill/internet, everything after that is up for grabs"
  • The true cost of app piracy can never be know for certain. The combined cost of people illegally downloading a $4.99 app is not costing the developer $4.99 per download, or even the 70% of that that apple doesn't get. You would have to be able to quantify how many of those downloads were actually lost sales, which I would guess is only a small part of the total.
    Also, as others have said, it isn't analogous to theft. If I steal a TV from Wal-mart, that is theft, as they can now not sell it to someone else, but even that isn't stealing from the manufacturer, as they have already gotten their money for that TV, it's only a theft from Wal-Mart. With a download of an app, no one is losing a physical copy they can sell. And most of the time, it isn't costing any company the bandwidth the app would use, as it comes from a different source. Sure, piracy is bad, but not as actual theft.
  • Psssh if you pirate an app, I wonder how you got that iPhone because obviously you're poor.
    Listen, if an app sucks, the .99 isn't going to hurt me. Even 4.99. Generally, a 4.99 isn't going to suck anyway. I don't need to try before I buy because it's likely that I can't test the app the way I would use it in a certain situation.
    Welcome to capitalism, Folks. It great that developers get a chance to make good money using their talents. I am thankful to live in the US where many times, we are the first to get good content. Often the only ones.
  • So ur saying buyer beware I've paid for so many 99cent crap apps I should just eat em all and feel good about it because the app had a good rating but in actuality sucked
  • Definitely buyer beware. If the app sucks, it's only .99. But if the app is very useful, then it was only .99. What a deal.
  • I'm not a gambling man so I'll try before I buy.
  • This reminds me of the people I knew that would steal cable and or channels with a box in the 90s. I pay for apps, music, and video. If I feel its not worth what stores are charging I don't buy it. That's just me. There will always be people stealing contant. What I love with android is the 15 min window. For most apps i can tell if I want it in that time. But I have been burned as well. But if its less than 3 bucks, oh well. I've bought more junk at Walmart for that price.
  • Nice post, very well written. But you missed out one point of so called "stealing" apps. If a Free App is only available in the US Store and a person who does not lives in US wants that app and get a cracked version of that app then what?
  • The matter has a lot of grey area. As Ahit said, what if the person living in Non-US area have to do to get a software, which app store will not sell in some other country? Any one paying for the iPhone pays cash for the phone and he is entitled to get the same software which is available in USA to be available in Indonesia too. As long as Apple tries to give more preference to a specific area or restrict some software to a specific area, piracy will exist.
    Another issue is no trial period in some apps. I'll buy a software if I find it useful to me. I have seen some people saying it's only 0.99. But for people like us whose money is much higher converted from $0.99. It can get me a good square meal in my country of origin. So saying it's only .99 isn't too good for non US people. Also after spending whatever the cost is, if you don't get a support, what do you want to do? Cry for your money? or is Apple responsible for the getting back the money?
    I use pirated software's only for testing, if the app doesn't have trial period. And if I like it, I'll buy it straight away. If the App developer is willing to give a few days trial period then there will be more purchase.
  • Wow, this is a really well-written article. And as always, I LOVE the photos in your post. iMore is now one of my favorite blogs.
    Please keep it up!
  • Even without pirated apps, jailbreaking is stupid. I strongly recommend that no one here jailbreak.
    First of all, if you want to talk about moral and ethics, jailbreaking is a violation of Apple's Terms and Conditions for using iOS. Second, in some instances, jailbreaking can brick your device if not done correctly or you don't know what you're doing. And if you try to get it fixed, voila! Voided warranty from Apple! Thirdly, there's just no point to it. The reason I hear most that people jailbreak is to get custom app icons or shortcuts to Settings. I have an app - on non-jailbroken iOS - that does exactly that. And there are many out there. So really, jailbreaking is risky, and you really don't need to do it. You may find yourself with an incurable white screen, frozen at the Apple logo, just won't turn on at all, or unable to restore, just to name a few.
  • Game Center "lock out" logic is flawed. My wife and son use the same iTunes account to download apps I've purchased, but they have their own Game Center account using a separate Email. Could this fact also contribute to devs seeing additional Game Center activity that doesn't match their sells?
  • Car insurance is must and everycar holder needs it so they want to discount in insurance policy.
  • Hi, um, I'm just a teen, and I know stealing is wrong wrong wrong, it's a bad thing to do, but hear me out. I live in a small town, not very many jobs, and when there are job openings they go to adults, not teens. My Mom doesnt make enough to give me an allowance every week, and no one will hire me for a job, so I have no way of paying for anything. I didn't even pay for my iPod, I got it as a gift from a relative. So the only way I can get any of the genuinely good apps is by the App theft. But! I plan on paying for the apps I use when ever I get a job, which I have in several applications at the moment. Or whenever I get a iTunes card for a birthday or Christmas. So yes, I know it's wrong, and most people would say "If you can't afford it, go without" But, I don't have any music on my iPod, and without having any apps, what would be the point of an iPod? But yes, stealing is wrong, and I think that even what I'm doing is wrong, but it's even worse if you're just stealing because you can and dont plan on paying for it later, like you should do.