A Tale Of Two iPhone Apps... And An Irrational Fear Of Piracy

from the compare-and-contrast dept

Reader Terry writes in to point out a rather amusing contrast between two separate stories on a site about iPhone apps. First, there's a story about the massive success of the iPhone game iShoot (which was just profiled in Wired as well). That game, which is basically a copy of the old Scorched Earth (a personal favorite), used a free "lite" version to convince people to buy a more complete $3 version to the tune of over $600,000 in a single month. It is an example of using "free" to sell something else.

But, as Terry points out, it's rather maddening that the very next post on that same site, repeats without any hint of skepticism, the complaint of another iPhone game developer that thousands of dollars were being lost to "piracy." Of course, the article seems to have no problem assuming every single unauthorized download is a lost sale, never once questioning whether those folks would have bought the game in the first place. It also fails to mention that the only way to get the unauthorized free version is to have a jailbroken iPhone -- which is a very small percentage of iPhones out there. More importantly, though, the first story makes it quite clear that if you build a good game, give people an easy way to try it out for free, they seem more than willing to pay for the app in large quantities. The problem (once again) is not the "piracy." It's not a "loss." The problem is simply the use of a bad business model by the second developer -- and, perhaps, making the game not worth purchasing.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  • identicon
    Valkor, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 3:33pm

    God, I loved Scorched Earth... I think I still have a copy of it somewhere. There's just something delightfully primitive, almost visceral, about those sound effects that were pumped through that little 2" PC speaker. When you got nuked by your best friend, you really knew it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 3:43pm

    Oh, come on

    This is America! Blame it on someone else -- it can't possibly be the fault of the developer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Aaron Downy, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 4:44pm

    Hey that's my money bro!

    I read both posts and any amount of money ripped off from a developer is too much. Though you make a good point about creating worthy games in the first place.

    And that Wired article you linked to... it was written the day after the original on iPhoneSavior. Looks like a little piracy of a different kind goings on by the big media goons. Scorched Earth rulz!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Bill G, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 5:37pm

      Re: Hey that's my money bro!

      I am sorry but money anyone never would have gotten is not a loss or stolen or taken from anyone. It is money they did not get.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    TW Burger, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 5:54pm

    Free is the best advertising

    If I can't download a try it first for free I do not buy it.

    However, the argument that the users that downloaded the pirated application would not have done so if they had to pay for it is not completely valid. True, many would not have bothered if they had to pay, but many probably would have.

    It's like saying the guy that stole your car wouldn't have done it if he had to pay for it so it's OK.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Nick (profile), Feb 18th, 2009 @ 6:21pm

      Re: Free is the best advertising

      TW Burger,

      Cars are a scarce good, software is no not.

      Any business that is experiencing "piracy" really just has a bad concept of what their business model is. Bing a victim of "piracy" is a choice.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    inc, Feb 18th, 2009 @ 7:50pm

    it's sick how no one wants to compete anymore. they just want to whine and cry and expect someone to hand over money. you gotta work for that shit like everyone else.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Teddy Hayes, Jun 30th, 2010 @ 1:10pm

    I will admit to having pirated a piece of software or two in my day. However, none of those were things I ever would have considered buying, so it is not really a loss to the developer. They should concentrate more on making a quality app that generates positive iPhone App Reviews, because these reviews are what actually drive sales.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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