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Realistic piracy solution: free apps for non-paid-market countries?

Discussion in 'Android Apps & Games' started by tliebeck, Jan 12, 2010.

  1. tliebeck

    tliebeck Well-Known Member
    Thread Starter

    I just released my first Android app, WebSharing, and I've of course been closing monitoring referrer data on my web site to see who's talking about it.

    The top referrer today was a site in the Czech Republic. Quite a few people appeared to be using it, and it appeared they were overall quite happy with it. This would be a great thing, but for the fact that the application is not available in the Czech Republic, given that Google doesn't offer the ability to sell paid apps there.

    I can't fault them for pirating it. These people live in a country where they can't buy software because the manufacturer of the platform decided that their country wasn't important enough to support.

    So I'm tempted to simply turn the free version of my app back on (which was used during beta), and specifically offer it only in countries where the paid version is not available. When the paid market becomes available in a given country, the free version will be removed from that market.

    My one question is how updates will work if you have the free version and it is removed from your country. After the paid version is available in a user's country, I'd like users to be able to continue using the free versions they already downloaded, but wouldn't want them to be able to receive new feature updates without actually buying the product. Would anyone happen to know how this works? I suppose I can determine this empirically by writing a do-nothing free APK, downloading it to my phone, removing it from the US market, adding an updated version, and then seeing if I can update to it. Of course, official information would be preferable.

    I think this might help with reducing piracy for a few reasons: First, it keeps an otherwise honest person from having to pirate software, as it gives them a legal means of obtaining it. Second, it removes motivation for the folks who would typically be pirating the software from doing so. In my case the app is three bucks, which can't be too much more than the opportunity cost of trying to find a pirated version.

    Has anyone implemented this strategy or something similar yet?

  2. NewYorkLaw

    NewYorkLaw Member

    Really, you can't fault pirates? I live in a country (USA) where I am not permitted to buy Cuban cigars. Does that mean it would be OK for me to go somewhere else and steal them?
    What "otherwise honest" person steals ANYTHING? Maybe food for his family, if he cannot afford it, but software for his high-tech android phone? I do not agree.

    Nothing you do is going to reduce piracy. Even if your software were five cents, someone would want to steal it just to prove they could.


  3. alostpacket

    alostpacket Over Macho Grande?

    Chill out NYL, I think he's taking a very reasonable approach to a unique scenario. More that that it's his app, he can fault who he wants.

    Also, people don't pirate five cent apps, that's ridiculous. No software even costs five cents. There is no magical line of cost where people pirate if it costs more than that amount and then all stop pirating if it costs less -- it gradations. I hope you don't use that kind of hyperbole in a courtroom.

    Anyways, My advice for you though tliebeck, is just to try out various things, and find out where along the curve of price to piracy you feel comfortable with.
  4. NewYorkLaw

    NewYorkLaw Member

    You're right, of course, but I hate to see people giving in to bullies. And, pirates are like bullies, just taking what they want.

  5. curtdragon

    curtdragon Newbie

    Here is what will happen: Said free app is released, free app apk file is then uploaded to servers. Paid market gets free app
  6. Jukov

    Jukov Newbie

    Yes, you are right but they are pirating it not because they do not want to buy it, but because they love it, use(d) it, but can not officially download it.

    This is something music industry fails to understand, and for me the proof for sustainability of an approach tliebeck suggests is iTunes. Sure, people can torrent every tune in the world, but they actually prefer to buy it.

    For tliebeck:
    I think it's welcome and thoughtful path you are walking on, my friend. Two suggestions:
    1. you can have a free application for "lost" countries, but supported by some kind of advertising
    2. you can put a link for donations explaining the situation, and your approach. I bet you'll get many donations once people will understand your position.
  7. alostpacket

    alostpacket Over Macho Grande?

    Think of it this way, it's an opportunity to capitalize on some goodwill and free word of mouth PR.

    The software industry will always have pirates, but it clearly has not ruined the industry. Even music, when you look at the success of how itunes managed to walk the music industry back from the brink of extinction by providing a convenience that was worth the $0.99.

    Certainly, every app that people want on the Market can, and will be, pirated at some point. But, the good ones will bring in money from people who don't have the time, nor technical inclination, to pirate.

    Additionally, free 'lite' versions of apps tend to attract a lot of business. One of the most famously successful iPhone independent game developers, who is now a multimillionaire, only got people to buy his app after he released a free version that got them hooked on the game.

    Anyways, that's just my $0.99 :)
  8. brnr17

    brnr17 Android Enthusiast

    are you a lawyer? just curious
  9. NewYorkLaw

    NewYorkLaw Member

  10. brnr17

    brnr17 Android Enthusiast

    haha sorry ... im sure your a good guy i just found what you said before hysterical given your in law
  11. NewYorkLaw

    NewYorkLaw Member

    That was good.
    Anyway, I'm in real estate, not intellectual property, so I may sound naive.
  12. mjschmidt

    mjschmidt Android Expert

    Hello! As one of the people stuck in a country with no access to paid apps (Canada. Yup, that's right, Canada. Right above you in the US. Nooooo paid apps.) I'd like to throw in my $0.99 ($1.01545 CDN today).

    There are so many apps I've read about that look and sound amazing, but I can't install them because they are paid apps. It is VERY frustrating. I don't DL anything that's not free without paying for it (trying to set a good example for my teenagers) and I don't want to root my phone, so... I lose.

    Some Devs, however, have been willing to release free apps that can be upgraded after the fact. For example, the Dev for NoteEverything told me I can DL the free version, and then get an unlock code by paying him via PayPal (haven't got around to setting up my PayPal account yet).

    DataViz allows users with no access to paid apps to DL the free version of Documents2Go from the market, and then buy an unlock code through their web site (I did this when it was on sale for $9.99. A sweet deal!).

    I just tried out the "Lite" version of tliebeck's Websharing app, and it's pretty dang cool. If I could purchase an unlock code via PayPal, I would do so.

    We've had android in Canada now since June 2009, and NO word from Google on when we will get paid apps. :-(

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