Out of Control: Android’s Crippling Piracy Problem

| August 3, 2010 | 7 Replies

Android fans, we are facing a dilemma. The iPhone is winning the war against piracy while we are on the losing end. It is just far too easy to get a pirated game on the Android OS. All you have to do is download the APK file to your PC, transfer it to your phone and then install it using file manager. The only way to get a pirated game on the iPhone is to jailbreak the phone. Let’s look at this issue a little closer.

Let’s take a look at an app called Radiant by Hexage. This app has been out since August of 2009. David Peroutka is the director at Hexage and he is using these charts to demonstrate how out of control piracy is on the Android OS. 97% of the games users in Asia are playing an illegal copy! 70% in Europe are and 43% in North America are using illegal copies. This app is $2.40! What person who uses an Android phone can’t afford $2.40??? This app has the appearance of an old Atari game which is why it is so popular. According to Distimo, an analytics company, Radiant was the sixth best selling Android game just a couple months ago in June. Take away Google’s share and the net revenue for Hexage was roughly $30,000.

According to the charts, sales could be as much as three times higher than they are without any piracy. However, Peroutka says “Many people using illegal copieswould not buy the apps if they have to pay for them.” I do agree with him on that statement. There are many people out there that just do not want to spend any money on apps. Also, many people just don’t see the need to pay the money when pirated copies are so readily available. Android is still young and there are things that need changing. We should have some faith that Google will step up and do what is best for Android.

Google IS going to do something about it. In an effort to fight piracy, Google is going to allow developers to log in to its servers to check if users of an app are licensed to use the app through its servers. In other words, developers can log on and see if the app is legal. If it is not legal, the developer can zap the app and have it shut down.

Android is well on its way to be the biggest smartphone platform in the wold. To keep growing and to entice developers to continue bringing creative and exciting apps to the market, Google needs to step up in its efforts to control piracy. How would you feel if you worked for six months on a cutting edge video game. You are excited to release it and finally reap the rewards for all of your hard work. Then, you find out that for every 100 people who have a copy of your game, only 3 people actually paid for it. I would be extremely bitter and I think every one of you would too. Why would you continue to develop games with results like these? Come on people, pay for the apps and give these developers the reward they deserve!

Category: Android App News

About Chris Yackulic ()

I am a Canadian transplanted to Los Angeles , California and the Founder and Owner of Androidheadlines.com My work history has always been in the computer related field or as a entrepreneur. Became a Android enthusiast since the birth of the first Google phone the G1 and never looked back.My hobbies and interests consist of the learning about new technologies, smartphones, tablets, computers, business, current events, hockey, reading. My favorite android products are the Google Nexus line but am always constantly changing up my devices every 6 months.
  • John

    i think your numbers need a little bit of context. specifically in regards to the asian demographic. currently japan is the only asian country with access to paid applications. http://market.android.com/support/bin/answer.py?h… i'm not saying it's not a problem, but things would look different if the market was truly world wide.

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  • S

    The MAIN reason for this is that most countries don't have access to paid apps. So even if they wanted to pay for these apps they can't. The irony is that you need to jailbreak an iPhone to install ileagal apps but you need to root an Android phone to be able to access paid apps. Google, SORT THIS OUT!

  • androidfreak

    Heres the deal. a lot of it has to do with the fact that alot of countries still don't have paid applications. until that is true piracy will always happen. Its an unfair glitch in the eco system. what would you do if you lived over seas in a country where you couldn't get Paid apps… yet you are reading forums and blogs about all these wonderful amazing games or applications you will never get to use. what choice do you have. I still think its an issue, but not as large as its being made out to be look at ZodTTD and the psx4droid app.. sitting at 10,000-50,000 downloads at 5.99. even on the low end thats nearly $60,000. Took me almost 2 years to make that much money and the app launched 10 days ago. Now I'm not saying "go steal applications" I'm just saying that even though it may be hurting the devs (I do want them to be happy so they continue their work) I feel if you make a quality app people will buy it regardless of if there is pirated copy out there. I buy apps all the time, but I also only buy them when I'm going to have a few hours to see if I want it so I don't miss my refund timeline either. I have spent, maybe $20 in apps and refunded at least $100. and in that $20 psx4droid is definitely one of the few.

    I don't know a lot about developing or much about the devs we have. I want to see a chart on how many developers have full time jobs making more then 100,000 a year and could have just as easily made it free. put that graph next to the developers that so this full time as their source of income for their families. just my 2 cents.

  • Luis Sismeiro

    Google, don't forget the fact that many of us would like to pay for the very good applications that exists for Android but can't because we don't have de paid Market like here in Portugal.

  • John

    One last thing to maybe take into account in this study is how are the demographics for other pieces of software for piracy?

    I recall seeing a chart of pirated PC games and Asia was leading the way with something like 85-90% of all games being pirated there. This link is old, but just to prove a point. http://bit.ly/bKqN9z

    So, albeit these numbers are not good by any means, they maybe in alignment with the demographic and its overall piracy rate.

    Just some food for thought.

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