App theft costs millions … but who cares?

Posted on April 2, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

The Apple empire is flourishing at a phenomenal rate – but like all technology innovators have discovered, piracy is an issue.  The computer sleuths that started the free sharing of music online, have conquered Apple’s security and done the same with their apps for the iPhone and iPod touch.

iPhone ‘crackers’ have found a method of modifying the DRM code (security settings) of an app so it can then be downloaded free and added to a iPhone/iPod.  Once the device has been adjusted and stripped of Apple’s security restrictions (a process called ‘jailbreaking’) broken apps can be easily downloaded from websites like http://thepiratebay.org/ and transferred instantly.

Even well known websites like YouTube have countless video editorials giving a step-by-step guide to jailbreaking.

Hacking your own iPhone is not illegal.  However, it is an offence to post broken apps that are copyrighted to the internet – but this is rarely policed.  Since the opening of the App Store in July 2008 the rumoured loss due to piracy is approximately $450-500m, although this has been denied by Apple.

A marketing manager at Apple made it clear that the company is not overly concerned about the current level of piracy and there are no plans to counter app pirates.  The word piracy does not even appear on the Apple site, official forums, related sites etc.  The franchise may be losing some money by ignoring this issue altogether but it would be a loss hardly felt by an empire reporting a net quarterly profit to December 2009 of $3.38 billion.

Brett is an owner of a jailbroken iPhone and, perhaps typical of all pirates, thinks:

“I have bought the phone so I should be able to do what I want with it.  Downloading cracked apps is just like any file sharing on the net – heaps of people do it… no-one cares if you do it.”

The music industry has made a move against piracy with the introduction of Guvera.com.   This website cleverly uses advertisers, rather than the public, to pay for downloaded music.

What will Apple do to solve their piracy problem, if anything at all?

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  • Joshua Papanikolaou


    Josh, a second year journalism student at Monash University will report on app piracy and the issue of 'jailbreaking'. He will also give some insight into the impact of apps within politics.

  • Emily D’Alterio


    Emily D'Alterio is also a second year Journalism student at Monash University.
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  • Jayne Duff


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