If you’re a regular reader, or you’re unlucky enough to have read a post in which I blab on about things that I like to code, then you’ve probably read about my app to control the Velleman K8055 USB Experiment Interface Board with an iPhone or other iDevice.
The app allows a user to control the inputs and outputs on the excellent little board from Velleman using their iOS device. I know that a few schools and students have started using the app as part of projects, and I know that those people have either obtained discount through the normal pathway via Apple or have contacted me for support, at which point I have been extremely forthcoming in providing free copies or extensive support to them. I love it when people learn from my software, or they use my software as part of a great thing to impress or excite others, it’s really an excellent feeling.
I discovered recently that not everyone feels like paying the fairly low one-off fee that I feel warrants the work I put in to the app, in terms of the coding, the support I give to people that email me, and the authoring of new client packages for different operating systems. My app, alongside a great many others, has now appeared on the famed Installous application, which provides links to the cracked IPA files of paid App Store apps on jailbroken iOS devices. These can then be downloaded for free and installed.
I’m not going to rant about how utterly illegal this is as you’d probably expect I would, because everyone has heard it all before. Every time someone mentions the theft of music, a film or a bit of software, someone always pipes up and comments on how illegal it is or how large the fine they’re risking is. Anyone can quote copyright law like a butthurt RIAA rep, I’m not interested in the legal side of this - what is done is done as far as I’m concerned.
The thing I really want to draw attention to is how much of a cheap shot this is at App Store developers like myself. I’m not in this game to make an Angry Birds rival or dominate the App Store with some beast of a game; I’m in this game to write some enjoyable, educational, interesting and innovative things that can help people in some way. Things especially aimed at students and schools and people with technical minds that want to learn and create. It’s not just illegal to steal something like this, it’s immoral.
I can already see the effect the presence of the app on Installous is having. The number of users connected to the K8055 iOS Bridge Service is increasing while the sales rate is going down, so the service is soon going to start costing me money to run. That’s part of the reason there is a cost associated with my app, I need to pay to run the service so people can link their board to the iPhone app without any silly network configuration.
If these people had half a shred of decency and fairness in them, they’d leave low-grossing educational apps like this out of it. I’m sure I’m not the only developer that has been seriously put off developing future apps. Apple can’t protect it’s developers - that much is clear; the greatest software sales platform ever created is as secure as a car boot sale.
I think this represents a depressing commentary on the childish state of mind these “crackers” have - a purile and relentless desire to carve a name for themselves in the side of someone else’s work. They aren’t making a statement about free software or fighting capitalism or protecting the rights of consumers any more, they have lowered themselves to the point where the animal hosting their parasitic community is dying under them. The little guys that want to make some money on the side are going to quit, the good software will be gone and we’ll be left with an open source mush of substandard, counter-innovative works.
To Apple I say - sort it out, we expect better of you as developers.
To the crackers I say - enjoy the app, it’s one of my last for sure.