Android Dev ‘Punishes’ Pirates at the Behest of Reddit

A few hours ago Android developer Jack Underwood revealed that his software was being pirated by 85% of users. Now, on the advice of Reddit, the UK-based dev has tweaked the app to provide pirates with some special surprises. Speaking with TF, Underwood says traditional anti-piracy measures are a waste of time.

walkplankIt doesn’t really matter what kind of digital media a company or individual produces, it’s a given that someone, somewhere, will attempt to pirate it.

Software, which has traditionally been expensive to buy, has always been targeted by those with small budgets seeking to enjoy products often placed out of reach. But price doesn’t always provide an excuse for those obtaining software without permission. With the rise of smart phones and tablet computers, software has become cheaper than ever, with many paid apps now available for just a few dollars.

One such app is Today Calendar Pro from UK developer Jack Underwood. It’s an already popular replacement calendar for Android with 4.5 stars from several thousand voters on Google Play. However, like many devs, Underwood is trying to find a way to bring down piracy rates. Just a few hours ago he revealed to Reddit users that 85% of people are using pirate versions of his app.

How to reduce that volume quickly became the topic of conversation. Some Reddit users were very aggressive but Underwood eventually settled on a more gentle approach.

“Today Calendar Pro has a 85% piracy rate, so the way we’ve chosen to combat that is to have the app randomly insert pirate-themed events if the app decides the install is pirated,” Underwood told TorrentFreak.

The first one, which has already been implemented, sees a graphical depiction of a plank suspended over shark-infested waters alongside a subtle reminder – “That’s what ye get fer piratin’ matey.”

pirate-matey

But despite the huge piracy rates, Underwood is surprisingly pragmatic. The developer informs TF that he actually ‘gets’ piracy and understands the mindset behind it.

“I’m not against piracy, from either a consumer or developer standpoint – I can totally understand why people pirate Today Calender. They want to try it out for an extended period of time, or they can’t afford to buy it, or they don’t think it’s worth the asking price, and that’s 100% fine with me,” he says.

Nevertheless, there’s no getting away from the fact that almost 9 out of 10 people using the Pro version aren’t paying the $6 price tag. Underwood feels there could be two reasons.

“Maybe it’s far too convenient to pirate (for the consumer, not the cracker), and the cost of the pro version is more than the convenience of updates from the Play Store. Or perhaps it’s not actually worth $6,” he says.

“Obviously I’m a little biased, but personally I think it’s worth $6 to people who use a calendar app on a daily basis. I also update the app a lot, probably three times a week.”

In the meantime Underwood will stick with more unorthodox ways of tackling piracy – he has no interest in investing time in the old tried-and-failed methods.

“Fighting piracy in a traditional way is a waste of time in my eyes, software will get cracked anyway. The majority of people who pirate my apps wouldn’t have bought them anyway, so it’s not as if I’m losing 85% of my revenue. In any event, I’d rather spend that time making Today more awesome.”

People who do decide to pirate Today Calender Pro will find it easily using Google, but Underwood hopes that the ‘special events’ appearing in the app at surprise intervals might encourage people to spend $6 if they find the software useful long-term.

“These events wont start occurring instantly, but when they do they’ll happen a lot – so the cracker (at first) won’t see the event coming, but once they start, they might get annoying quite quickly.

“The plan is that people will get so bored of being invited to ‘pirate parties’ and being told to walk the plank that they’ll give up and just buy the thing,” Underwood concludes.

Those who do want to spend $6 can do so here, but for everyone else there’s a free ad-supported version. Those choosing to use unauthorized sources can do so, but expect to be invited to pirate-themed parties – every Tharrrrrsday.

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