This Is Why Android Can't Have Nice ThingsS

Dead Trigger, a mobile video game for iOS and Android, is now free in the Google Play Store. Awesome, right? Except no. It's not awesome, since it's only free because the piracy rate for the Android version is "unbelievably high." Ugh.

It's just one example, but it's a problem that's endemic to the platform—or at least seen that way. There are a lot of things keeping developers from succeeding on, or even wading into the Android platform. Fragmentation doesn't help. But developers having to just give up charging for their game—which was only a buck!—because everyone's pirating it has to have a lot to do with it.

And look, we've given you plenty of advice about how to pirate. But in general, you want to limit those habits to things you actually own, and are being inconvenienced out of, by DRM or format or whatnot. Not every app on your mobile platform.

Pirating on Android is different than iOS because it has a much lower barrier to entry; just find a copy of the file and sideload it onto your phone. For iOS, you can jailbreak, but that's far more involved, akin to rooting an Android phone and installing a custom ROM. It's not something you'd do on a whim just because an app caught your eye, and not nearly as pervasive a practice as Android sideloading.

In the near future, Jellybean will add paid app encryption, which should make pirating significantly harder. But it's going to be a while before that offers a protective blanket to developers; with the notoriously slow and limited distribution of OS updates to Android phones, its effect will be localized to just a few handsets for the foreseeable future. This feature will be supported by Gingerbread 2.3+ handsets. Hopefully, it will genuinely help curb piracy in the way Bouncer has cleaned up malware. But we'll see—piracy is nothing if not unrelenting.

Until this problem corrects itself, iOS is going to continue to obliterate Android in app profits. And as long as that keeps up, Android's going to keep getting second-rate effort from good developers, and inferior versions of good apps. And that's not fair to anybody. [Verge]