Jailbreaking iDevices has become quite popular, as evidenced by the download rate of the recently released evasi0n jailbreak. The newest jailbreak was installed on more than seven million devices just four days after it came out.
While jailbreaking proponents often explain that they jailbreak their iOS devices for greater customizability (and there are quite a few high quality apps available only for jailbroken devices), there is no denying that jailbreaking is often done to obtain pirated versions of apps. You may not know this, but developers can tell when their apps have been illicitly obtained, and oftentimes, it can cause quite a loss in revenue.
One developer, Tapbots, has taken to calling out users who have stolen its ultra popular Tweetbot app, which is available for both the iPad and the iPhone. Every pirated copy of Tweetbot inserts the following phrase when the tweet button is tapped:
I’ve been demoing a pirated copy of @tweetbot and really like it so I’m going to buy a copy.
Pretty hilarious. Of course, the phrase only shows up in the box, it doesn’t tweet automatically, which gives users a chance to delete it and tweet their own messages.
Except many users do inadvertently tweet the pirated message, as explained by Paul Haddad of Tapbots, who says that Tweetbot doesn’t force the users to tweet the message. “We fill the Tweet sheet,” he writes. “It’s up to the user to post or cancel.”
Tapbots approach to identifying people who pirate Tweetbot is unique, and entirely necessary. Piracy has the potential to greatly impact Tweetbot, as Twitter has capped the maximum number of users that a third party Twitter client can have.
Users who pirate the app are cutting into the dedicated number of users that Tweetbot can accumulate, without providing the company with any revenue. Public shaming is uncomfortable for the users who have downloaded the app without paying for it, but it’s entirely warranted, in this case.
Piracy is a serious issue for app developers. It has been known to shut down entire games, such as Battle Dungeon, an app from Hunted Cow that was removed from the App Store after just a week. Pirated copies of the app caused such a high server load that the developer could not compensate for the additional usage, and thus pulled the app from the store entirely.
Hopefully other developers will take a cue from Tapbots and begin calling out users that download apps for free. Apple is also taking steps to cut down on piracy, and its upcoming 6.1.3 update will fix at least one of the bugs that the evasi0n jailbreak exploits, rendering the jailbreak unusable on future versions of iOS.
Tweetbot is well worth the cost. It’s $2.99 to download the iPad app from the App Store, and it provides the best Twitter experience by far.