Smartphone era opened wide range of possibilities to digital pirates. Pallid statistics says that, for example, only 5% of Android and 40% on iOS installations of an app by Ustwo Monument Valley were paid.
It is obvious that developers have to protect their work from piracy, but how is it possible?
To start with, there is an effective but notoriously unpopular method: digital rights management. However, sometimes because of registration or other problems DRM can lock out users of their own purchase. Still, it is a way to protect the code of the app.
Another way is to update apps on the regular basis: thieves will have to begin everything from scratch every time the new update is released. When users have to update in order to use the app, the pirates will have fewer possibilities to crack the code. Huge minus of DRM is that it can lock using content in a specific system and when the user will want to change the system, they will lose access to the app.
Also you can try to threat legal actions against those users who have downloaded your app illegally. Though in some cases threats looked more like blackmailing, so this way should be handled with care. It would be more wisely to target website owners, initial uploaders and repeat offenders. This way is more effective but it is also more time and cost consuming.
Piracy as a way of indirect marketing
Sometimes digital piracy serves as an indirect form of marketing, for musicians, for example. They do not sell records but gather more people on concerts as people find ways to download their music.
Another danger of the digital piracy is that in most cases cloned copy of the app contains embedded malware.
One of the ways to protect the code of the app from cloning is removing the algorithm from the app code to the server in the cloud. In that case there will be no possibility for thieves to get hands on it. The disadvantage of this approach is a constant need to access to the Internet when users use the app.
And there is another opportunity to protect the data and still be able to earn: propose free version of the app and then add some paid premium features. This approach was tested by many famous companies and it works well.