Linked by David Adams on Thu 31st Mar 2011 16:41 UTC
Privacy, Security, Encryption If you download and use what appears to be a version of the commercial "Walk and Text" Android app from a file sharing site, you're in for a surprise. When you run it, it shows you that it's being "cracked" but it's really gathering information from your device, in preparation for an e-smackdown. It sends a bunch of personal information (name, phone number, IMEI) off to a server, and, just for lulz, text messages everyone on your contact list:
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RE[2]: Nice !
by gerg on Thu 31st Mar 2011 19:51 UTC in reply to "RE: Nice !"
Member since:

As an android developer, I can tell you the 15 minute window for the vast majority of applications is extremely fair. Far too many people fail to understand they are purchasing an application for a buck or two which requires hundreds, if not thousands of man hours to create. And that's completely ignoring the massive support headaches and version incompatibilities (requiring a massive testing matrix) created by Google.

You're talking to a developer who had less than 1000 sales, 4.75 rating for a long time, and over 250,000 pirate installs.

I've had pirates demand support who then negatively rated me when support was not provided - which completely ignores servicing a single support request destroys all profit associated with the sale and actually places you into the negative.

I also had several friendly pirates say they'd be happy to donate for using the application but had no option but to pirate since it was available in their country. As such, i wasted time adding paypal support, per their request. Remember, I received many such emails specifically requesting this. To date - zero donations.

Piracy on Android is a massive problem. Piracy is the single largest reason why so many developers are forced to go the ad ware route. And yet, now users are getting mad at developers for making money the way possible thanks to pirates and Google's anti-copying incompetence. And even worse, pirates are now actively working to strip adware, a developer's sole source of income, from applications. And still worse yet, many of these pirates then turn around and either resell these applications or make money from ad ware by providing works created by others.

If you're the least bit upset, you need to smack around every pirate you can find. They are literally taking money from developers and are the direct cause of much unhappiness on the Android platform.

Reply Parent Score: 8

RE[3]: Nice !
by WorknMan on Thu 31st Mar 2011 20:28 in reply to "RE[2]: Nice !"
WorknMan Member since:

I agree with you that piracy on Android is a huge problem, but where you and I disagree is whether or not the 15 minute trial period is 'extremely fair'. I thought the 24 hour trial they had was more than reasonable, and if you're building an app/game that people are tired of using after 24 hours, you should probably find another profession. The reason I say this is to point out that yes, there ARE a few of us 'honest pirates' out there. Not many, but a few. So keep that in mind if you ever decide to start dicking with people's phones/contact lists; you WILL end up with some 'false positives'.

Also, I am one of those people who uses an ad blocker on my Android phone. If there's a paid version of an ad-supported app, I'll choose to purchase every time. But if you don't offer a paid version, well... guess you're shit out of luck; your negligence is not my problem.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[4]: Nice !
by gerg on Thu 31st Mar 2011 22:20 in reply to "RE[3]: Nice !"
gerg Member since:

The problem with the 24 hour refund period (which historically went as far as 48 hours) is it was, by far, excessive. With very few exceptions, it doesn't take 24 hours to review an application. If it does, you should have deferred your purchase until such time you can commit the time required to evaluate. Generally you know within the first couple of minutes. And frankly, its even a tiny minority of applications which can not be reviewed in something less than five minutes.

The biggest problem with twenty four hours, especially for games, is people would download, play the game until content, and then uninstall. The issue is, the user got their $1 worth of fun but the developer didn't get his payment in exchange. It was extremely common.

Seriously, what exactly are you evaluating where you need more than five or ten minutes? Furthermore, what do you need to evaluate beyond fifteen minutes which user comments haven't already helped guide. That is, after all, one of the primary reasons developers are subjected to abuse and frequently flat out lies - is to protect you, the user.

IMOHO, I'd be fine with maybe something as long as thirty minutes or an hour but anything beyond that is completely out of line and is unjust to developers more so than users. The twenty four hour period was just abusive on developers and simply unnecessary.

As for the ad-blocker, that's really unfair. You need to keep in mind, most developers are ONLY able to generate income from ads because pirates prevent a profit otherwise. With licensing now available, that starting to change, a little, but you're still taking money out of the developer's pocket. You're punishing the developer for the actions of pirates; which makes it doubly wrong.

Developers would love not to have to mess with ad ware, as it makes the applications bigger and takes time to add. But realistically, what you're doing only harms developers and the platform. I sincerely wish you would reconsider. At the least, what you're doing is very unethetical. You're accepting the application in exchange for displaying ads. As such, you're taking from the developer and not fulfilling your part of the contract.

Edited 2011-03-31 22:39 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[3]: Nice !
by No it isnt on Fri 1st Apr 2011 10:32 in reply to "RE[2]: Nice !"
No it isnt Member since:

Tell me, how do you rate a paid app you haven't bought? As far as I can tell, you only get access to rating when you've installed an app through the Market.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[4]: Nice !
by gerg on Fri 1st Apr 2011 14:13 in reply to "RE[3]: Nice !"
gerg Member since:

Tell me, how do you rate a paid app you haven't bought? As far as I can tell, you only get access to rating when you've installed an app through the Market.

People purchase it and then immediately issue a refund. Thusly allowing them to rate and comment.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: Nice !
by kaiwai on Sat 2nd Apr 2011 02:27 in reply to "RE[2]: Nice !"
kaiwai Member since:

<gets on high horse>

You've hit the name on the head; I know when I was kid back in the Amiga days I used to pirate all my software, especially games, for a number of reasons - with the lack of access to said games being the biggest factor (I'm in New Zealand and most games were released in the UK, add to that being a kid earning $17.50 per week delivering news papers and the pound to $NZ conversion being horrific you can see why).

Fast forward to today and I have a full time job and part of that has come the 'realisation' that there are people out there who make their living writing software and for people like me to buy - legitimising piracy is a game anyone can play, or as Martin Luther said, "reason is a whore" and thusly people will reason their way out of anything they do. I'm in a situation too where I can see people thieve products from said place of work and I can see the cost it has on the bottom line - it isn't just a matter of a few cents but a culmination of a person here and a person there each taking what they think that they deserve.

For the record I reward good software companies and punish bad software companies by refusing to purchase their software. When a company puts out a great piece of software I'll praise them, write on my blog and even make a video praising their product. For example the Omnigroup I have purchased OmniGraffle Pro, OmniOutliner Pro which have been great pieces of software and I'm proud of the fact that I have paid for them. Same goes for Panic Software, Red Sweater Software and Bare Bones Software.

The problem is that so many people see their own piracy as a victimless crime, "oh, its only me", "I'm sure they're making millions" and so on. Legitimising what they do with some sort of David and Goliath comparison. If you can't afford the software then don't use it - I know it is shocking for some but just because you really, really, really want something doesn't some how flip ethics on its head in justification of what ever you want to do. I couldn't afford Microsoft Office at one point so I had to put up with using Lotus Smart Suite many years ago until Microsoft came out with the 'Home and Student' where I saved up the money ($230 or so) and purchased a copy. Same can be said with Creative Suite CS5 and all the software.

</gets down off high horse>

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[3]: Nice !
by clhodapp on Sun 3rd Apr 2011 05:15 in reply to "RE[2]: Nice !"
clhodapp Member since:

1) Being an Android developer does not make you more qualified than any other person familiar with the Android ecosystem to say whether a 15 minute window is "fair" for users, except for maybe when referencing your own apps or those you have personally used (and then, only on an app-by-app basis). I do suppose that you being a developer does help bring some balance, though: comment sections on tech sites seem to be excessively pro-consumer sometimes..

2) You are mixing two things without making a case for why they should be mixed; There is no reason that increasing the length of an app's trial period should result in an increase in piracy. In fact, so far as I can reason, it can only decrease the chance that that app is pirated because a user may decide that the app is so crappy that it's not worth pirating. Also, if a user goes through the effort of downloading the app from the market (a precondition enjoying an app's trial period), then they are unlikely to pirate it, since it takes less effort to simply pirate an app as compared to the sequence of buy->return->pirate.

3) Clearly a 15 minute trial period is too short in a great number of cases. As has been stated, some apps are designed to do tasks at occasional intervals, etc. Also, what if you are downloading the app over 3g? It is possible that you will spend a great deal of your trial period simply acquiring the app. Also, I have had it take a couple minutes for the app to register as returned due to the market being buggy (I know, this is Google's fault, not the developer's). As such, it is quite possible for a user to get significantly less than 15 minutes to try out an app.

4) At risk of putting words in your mouth, it would seem to me that your reasoning in thinking that 15 minutes is "plenty" of time is that you personally think that users should get no trial time at all because that would result in developers getting more money, especially if their apps were crappy. This argument seems to come directly from the RIAA/MPAA school of thought. All I can say is that a user is way more likely to pirate rather than pay for an app if they are worried about that app's quality, so I would expect that trial periods probably help curb piracy of high-quality apps. (Note that I am perfectly willing to retract this argument and substitute it for a simple "no way" if you legitimately believe that all apps can be fairly evaluated in 15 minutes).

5) I agree that 24 hours can easily be WAY too long for a particular app. For example, the app could be a creative work, such as an interactive comic book, designed to be consumed in a couple of hours at maximum. For this reason, I really wish that the app's developer could specify a trial period, with options ranging between ~30 minutes at the extreme short end to ~1 week at the extreme long end. I also wish that there was an API for the app to be able to lock down some functionality when it had not been paid for (this way, something like tax document preparation software could allow the user several days to complete their taxes, but not allow the user to actually submit the tax documents without paying.). The only risk is that I could see stupid users marking the app down in reviews as a result (literally, I can see them writing "Could not submit taxes during trial period. 1 star. SSGS" or some such. Why do people feel the need to put the number of stars they are assigning in the text of their reviews and to list the make/model of their phone when it isn't relevant? Oh? Am I ranting? Ok I'll stop).

Edited 2011-04-03 05:18 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1