These days, depending on your moral/ethical standpoint, you can get damn near anything for free. Music, movies, and now, even iPhone apps (and I’m not referring to those that are priced that way). Oh yes, they’re out there – but hold your applause.
However hard it may be to believe, not everyone is thrilled with what these pirates, (read: hackers) are doing – namely, the developers of the cracked apps. It’s so easy to forget about the little guy…
Take for example, James and Constance Bossert, creators of Whack ‘Em All, (think Whack A Mole, but on your iPhone). They were averaging about 10 buys a day, not exactly brisk business considering that their app only cost 99 cents. On January 4th, they awoke to find they had over 400 new users that day. Jackpot! Not exactly.
The new users were no-good, damn, dirty pirates – acquiring their app for free on the web from a hacker by the name of most_uniQue, (what a unique user name! I should get a vanity plate like that!) James took the diplomatic approach, and opened the lines of communication with the hacker with the following email:
“I’m the developer for Whack ‘em All. I noticed you’re being given credit for cracking Whack ‘em All and making it generally available for free. We (just my wife and I) haven’t even made enough money off of this to pay for the iPhone we had to buy to develop it on. Just yesterday 40 times more people got your version of the app than bought it off the app store!”
He asked the cracker why. Why?! Why crack the apps and offer them for free? Well, wouldn’t you know it – that crazy cracker replied!
“As many iPhone and iPod touch owners have discovered, Apple’s iTunes App Store has many flaws which render it useless to the common user. Apple has chosen to allow a multitude of ridiculous, worthless, poorly-represented applications through its ’strict’ screening process, nearly all written by mediocre programmers with a dream of getting rich quick. Many of these programmers game the reviews system, misrepresent their application in the description, and generally try to swindle the honest buyer. Apple could quite easily solve this problem by implementing a sort of trial period for each application, but they do not. The user is forced to buy blindly without ever getting to try the application first.”
If the hacker sounds bitter, it’s because he is. He claims that he decided to crack iPhone games after getting burned on some purchases that didn’t live up to their promised expectations. He figured this would offer users the chance to try the app before buying the app. Unapologetically, he offered the following resolution.
“To solve this problem either talk to Apple to allow trials, or you can release your game on Cydia with ads.”
Man, isn’t anonymity on the Internet awesome?