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How Bad Is Piracy In The App Store? Pinch Media Takes A Look

October 13, 2009


Pinch Media recently shared some data that they presented at the 360iDev conference regarding the state of piracy in the App Store and the results are definitely interesting, if not somewhat surprising. Pinch Media decided to start tracking jailbreak users in response to developers seeing unusual spikes in their userbase, spikes that didn't mesh with what iTunes Connect was reporting for new downloads.  As it turns out, those spikes were from pirated apps on jailbroken devices. According to Pinch Media's analytics, about 38 percent of jailbreak users run pirated apps.  Their data consists of about 4 million jailbroken devices, which means about one and a half million of those devices have a pirated app on them. Piracy is obviously a global phenomenon, but apparently it's worse in some countries than in others.  Their results indicate that piracy is much more rampant in countries like China, Russia, Brazil, and Mexico, with the U.S., Great Britain, and Japan having the lowest rates.  This indicates that piracy is negatively correlated with per capita national GDP. Out of all of the apps using Pinch Media's analytics, over 60 percent have been pirated.  According to Pinch Media, this estimate is actually low considering pirates will occasionally disable their tracking.  And when an app is pirated, about 34 percent of all installs are cracked.


Just like legitimate paid app downloads, pirated apps are used quite a bit at first, but the usage drops of much more rapidly over time than with legitimate app downloads.  Pinch Media claims there are three reasons for this.  The first being that since the user didn't actually pay for the app, they have less invested in using it.  Second, pirates usually install apps in bulk, meaning that they have a lot more apps to choose from to suit their specific tastes and needs.  Third, all jailbroken devices suffer from increased app crash rates, leading to more frequent app un-installs. The final point they make, and the biggest point as far as I am concerned, is that the "try before you buy" motto that pirates use is completely bogus.  Pinch Media's analytics show that about 7.4 percent of legitimate "Lite" app users go on to purchase the full paid version, which is about a 1 in 14 ratio.  If you apply the "try before you buy" theory to all pirated app users the results should be about the same, right?  Well, according to Pinch Media, only .43 percent of pirated app users go on to purchase the full version, resulting in a 1 in 233 ratio. Pinch Media's findings are rather disappointing, especially for developers.  It's important to note once again that even Pinch Media admits their numbers are quite a bit lower than one would expect thanks to the great lengths some jailbreakers go to to avoid being tracked.  At this point there isn't a whole lot any one person can do to stop app piracy, so just be accountable for your own actions. So jailbreakers, what do you think about Pinch Media's findings?

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