Mobile applications developers outline several excuses for not selecting Android as their first choice platform. And application piracy is one of the reasons that may scare some developers away from that platform for good.
One may say that piracy is a universal problem in the mobile app industry and it has not been eliminated completely on any particular platform. However, Google’s Android suffers from it the most according to Analytics Research Services and it’s director Joshua Martin. He also suggests that applications in the game category are more prone to piracy than others, as games remain trending.
Only the popularity of an app cannot be regarded as the major cause of illegal copying. A survey conducted by Yankee Group showed that platform’s policies play a key role in piracy concerns, as the majority of developers agree that Android is somewhat careless in terms of making it difficult to copy an app, i.e, to protect developers. As many as 16 percent of those creating original applications estimated that more than a half of their customers run pirated apps on their devices.
Piracy rates soar
Carl Howe, Vice President of Yankee 451 Group’s Data Sciences group, pinpoints another striking feature of the pirating, it’s geography. Here, Asian countries set the record of 1 in 90 Android app installs being unpaid for. Chris Pruett, developer of Robot Invader reported that nearly 80 percent players of his game Wind-up Knight have a pirated version, and majority of those players come from China. The fact that Chinese customers cannot access the Google Play store triggers some illegal ways users play the games. And eventually, those pirated apps spread to other countries. And once people come by scuh a copy, they are unlikely to make a purchase later. Aside from bringing financial losses to developers, this entails unexpected server storage costs.
How to avert piracy
Information and education is proved to be the best option in fighting this battle. It’s time developers stopped blaming Google and Android, and learnt to secure their product instead. Matthew Powers, CTO for Applico, encourages developers to put into action some of the means already existing on the platform to stop the piracy. Those include, but are not limited to, Google Play Licensing, code obfuscation, and copy protection.
Instead of being proactive in securing their product, many developers opted out of copy protection and cited an augmented size of protected .apk files as the main reason. And as revealed by the Yankee Group only about 52 percent of developer implemented copy protection in their product.
A sure way to discourage someone from stealing your app is to make it a bit too complicated a task. David Richardson, lead developer of the Lookout Android, underlines that a hacker is unwilling to spend too much effort and time on a task. So such a simple step as using the Android ProGuard tool to shrink your .apk will lower the chances to get hacked, as it complicates the process. And in addition, the tool gets your application code optimized and obfuscated.
Another means to protect your app is the Google licensing service and License Verification Library (LVL). The latter provides verification of the Google Play account of a downloaded app. Not to mention the obligatory encryption which has been there since the Jelly Bean Android OS release. That is, in order to use an illegal copy of an app, a person would require the device key. This places considerable obstacles in the way of copycat apps.
Freemium and frequent updates to squash piracy
No platform can guarantee you the absence of piracy, but there is one more option to consider to make your app unattractive to pirates. Develop a different monetization strategy and think over freemium. Follow the Madfinger Games’ example. It relaunched Dead Trigger as a free game and added some premium features to be purchased inside the app. For some developers, for instance, Glu Mobile, a similar move resulted in the piracy rates fall down to just 2 percent. Frequent updates of code and app titles also gets in the way of pirates who are generally not willing to keep up with all the changes, according to DeLaet. In addition to reducing the piracy, Glu Mobile reported its revenue increased to around $19.9 million.
And the least desirable option, but an option nonetheless, is to draw out of Android completely. Though you might reconsider this move and opt for the cost-benefit analysis used by Mika Mobile. It showed that their insufficient revenue was due to piracy, but to their high expectations on the market.
All in all, there is not sure way to make crimes in the mobile app industry vanish. But some of the options suggested above may knock piracy on the head, and thus, help you secure your mobile app business on Android, the fastest growing mobile devices market.