Piracy – Killing the Mobile App Industry


There are millions of people who download paid-for mobile apps for free. It has made a big impact on major companies such as Apple and Google. The article talks about a popular app that many of you probably heard of called Plague. Plague is a game that lets players infect a virtual world with pathogens. Within days of releasing the game to the Apple app store, hackers made it available online for free. Up to 35% of the game’s downloads have been illegal, but the game has gotten 1.6 million paid downloads. Had those illegal downloads been paid for, the app would of generated $500,000 more.

There is an obvious issue in pirating when it comes to music, movies, and video games, and now pirates have turned to the app industry, making a significant dent in mobile-app store sales. There are many ways to steal an app such as copying its code and publishing it on an online forum or legitimate app store. Sales would actually be 20% – 50% higher if it weren’t for illegal downloads.

Google, Apple, and others have been increasing security of their app stores by using process improvement, as discussed in class. Google started offering encryption keys along with paid apps to verify the app is being used on the device it was paid for. Many new game publishers are paying for anti-tampering tools to alert developers if hackers are trying to modify an app to steal it. The tools can also prevent the apps from working properly or redirect the user to Apple’s app store.

The majority of app developers do not use anti-piracy tools besides basic ones provided by the stores that sell their apps. It seems to me that it’s not worth it for most developers because some tools will make users go through extra verification steps, making apps more difficult to download and use.  A lot of developers are using a freemium approach, where they have ads on the app for the customers who do not want to purchase it, and ad-free version for those who do purchase it. Also, the people who download the apps illegally will have the ads version.

The developer of Plague says that he “hopes to convert pirates into paying customers by luring them with new features and updates.” In my opinion, I do not think that it will make a major impact by doing that, but it will definitely help a little bit. The article also states that piracy helps promote marketing and advertising for app developers. Overall, piracy has a big impact on the $10 billion dollar app industry

Do you think developers should invest more money to eliminate piracy?

Does piracy help promote marketing and advertising?

Do you think by adding new features and updates to apps, it will help decrease piracy?


Let me know how you guys feel about the topic. Here is the link to the article: 


6 thoughts on “Piracy – Killing the Mobile App Industry

  1. Piracy is an issue that has plagued our culture for years. It initially started with music and then went into the movie/software industry. Now it seems that piracy has shifted towards mobile applications. As technology changes piracy follows suit. It is almost impossible to stop piracy completely. There will always be hackers and software engineers that will be able to manipulate the system and break through. The key is succeed in spite of the pirates. Easier said than done.

  2. I agree. I believe piracy will always be an issue with media and the new advancements made in the future. No matter what developers do to protect their products, there will be someone out there who can find a way around it to steal. These new methods may help for a time, but not long. I think piracy is something that companies involved in such media and technology markets will always need to keep in mind and expect to an extent.

  3. I think adding new features and updates will decrease piracy. Applications which are bought from google play or apple app store will run on its own respective operating system. Therefore google and apple will have control of who is using the application. Once the app is registered through a mac address (cell phone hardware) companies can block installation if someone tries to install on a unregistered mac address.

  4. I agree with the above comments that although companies like Google and Apple may continue to create more and more precautions to prevent hackers and pirates from downloading their apps for free, people will still find a way to get around them. Hacking is usually done by skilled people who manipulate the systems they want to break and usually are able to because they have extensive knowledge of what they are doing. Google and Apple may be able to decrease the amount of piracy occurring with their apps but I highly doubt that they will be able to eliminate piracy altogether.

  5. Although updating and adding extra “steps” to prevent piracy, I still believe that it will never 100 percent piracy protected. There have been many cases where hacking has been done on major websites and there are even hacking groups who target specific groups. I believe that by adding some extra steps or updates can prevent some of the piracy, but I also believe that it will never be completely reliable.

  6. Hacking has been going on for ages and it is quite sad. Ever since the mobile market grew to be this big, hackers have been hacking mobile devices too. Personally, as someone who has three applications in the App Store it is depressing to see it cracked by hackers. Hours of work go into development and within minutes anyone can go and download your cracked app, it is kind of sad to see. We changed our approach recently to work around hackers stealing our app, what we did was make a free app with ads and we implemented an in-app purchase where a user can pay $0.99 to remove ads. This works well because the app is already free and there isn’t a way to hack the in-app purchase because it checks with Apple’s servers and verifies your credit card information.

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