Every now and then, the UDID (unique device identifier) of our iDevices causes problems. Last month, Wired’s Andy Baio wrote a story covering the dark side of certain developers that would sell accessApple beta software to non-developers. The practice wasn’t very secret, as many of these developers used websites on public domains that allowed regular people to have their UDID activated for the installation of beta software (for a price). As MacStories reports, Apple has been cracking down on many of these websites for their shady practices.
To become an upstanding, Apple law abiding developer, a developer must register their account with Apple for $99 per year. This allows the configuration of 100 devices using Apple’s “Provisioning Portal,” which is used for requesting and downloading developer certificates, registering devices, and creating and downloading provisioning profiles.
But where’s the money in that?
Websites that charged for UDID activation did so for a low price, as Baio stated:
For a small developer, unauthorized activations are a lucrative business that’s likely worth the risks. UDID Activation publishes their order queue on their official site, which shows more than 2,300 devices activated in the last week alone. At $8.99 for each activation, that’s more than $20,600 in revenue, with $2,277 paid to Apple for the 23 developer accounts. Their homepage claims that more than 19,000 devices were activated so far, and that’s only one of several services. And since device activations only last for a year, each service can reuse their expired slots with no additional cost.
According to MacStories, many of the sites in question (activatemyios.com, activatemyudid.com) have been shut down since Baio’s article was posted. After reaching out to some of the sites for information regarding the takedown of their services, one of the site’s owners stated his hosting provider received a complaint for copyright infringement from Apple and was forced to shut down the site.
In regards to the owner of that site, Macstories states:
In the email, the site owner said that their website made $75,000 since last June, when Apple released the first beta of iOS 6 to developers. “We do not believe our service was infringing and our services did not violate their guidelines for iOS 6″, the site owner commented, adding that they will soon launch another similar site, “with better and more secure data lines to handle Apple”.
Although beta software is obviously unfinished, it’s clear that there are a sizable amount of users that will pay to use it before the rest of us get the chance to use the public release. In the meantime, the owners of these sites are making a pretty nice profit – one that Apple isn’t getting a cut of.
In the end, these sites are breaking Apple’s rules, so are you surprised to see them get shut down? Should Apple implement a stricter way to get beta software onto our iDevices, or block UDID access from users altogether?