An iPhone App Developer's Take on Piracy: Work With Pirates, Not Against Them

The creator of iCombat weighed in with his thoughts on newly-popular piracy of iPhone apps with an interesting conclusion: It's not worth the trouble to police the pirates, and they might even prove helpful.

iCombat, a take on Combat for Atari (that we quite liked), suffered from a huge ratio of pirates to legitimate users: Nearly 5:1 for the app's first week before levelling out to about 1:1 later. That's right, five times as many pirates as paying users.

Yet the app's creator isn't furiously chasing after pirates. He implemented a sort of trick version for pirates that only reaches level 5 (of 20) before displaying a button leading to a page on his site that reads:

Hi if you have been directed to this page it's because we see that you have a pirated copy. While we are glad you are interested please understand that we want to continue making it better, but to do that we need people to each pay for their copy. If you want to continue using please purchase today.

He reasons that word of mouth is word of mouth, and pirates represent an opportunity to upsell the full app. Besides, just because someone pirates an app doesn't mean you're losing money; many pirates have no intention of paying for an app, so it's not like you would have gotten their money anyway. If the app can't be pirated, many would just go without.

It's an interesting read, for sure. Seeing as how some of us are pirates ourselves, we like the idea of working around the issue rather than attacking it as if it'll go away. [iCombat]