The developer behind Today Calendar Pro is dropping some depressing numbers about how rampant piracy remains on Android.
In a Google+ post Jack Underwood says 85 percent of the installations of his $5.99 calendar app are not paid downloads from Google Play.
The numbers are even more depressing for Monument Valley, a popular mobile game on both Android and iOS. Recently the team behind the puzzler said only five percent of installations on Android were legitimate.
This contrasts sharply with the iOS version, which saw a 60 percent rate of piracy. Neither number is encouraging however, indicating that both Apple and Google must do more to help developers protect their work.
While traditional tools to push back involve using in-app upgrades or encrypting certain features, Underwood is taking a more unorthodox approach: annoying the pirates. He’s programmed the app to drop in random, pirate-themed events if the app determines the installation wasn’t from a legit source (pictured).
Ironically neither the devs behind Today Calendar Pro nor Monument Valley were all that upset by the piracy figures. Underwood told Torrent Freak that he doesn’t see it as lost revenue, as those who pirate would find a way to do so anyway.
“Fighting piracy in a traditional way is a waste of time in my eyes, software will get cracked anyway. The majority of people who pirate my apps wouldn’t have bought them anyway, so it’s not as if I’m losing 85% of my revenue. In any event, I’d rather spend that time making Today more awesome.”
The Monument Valley team tweeted that the piracy “was to be expected” and chalked it up to the cost of doing business.
Developers rarely release such numbers, which makes it difficult to get a more detailed picture as to how much piracy is impacting other apps and games. Another factor is that developers are increasingly using the free-to-play model for their Android version instead of requiring payment upfront. While it's not foolproof, it's more difficult for pirates to crack.
An example is Badland. The game is $3.99 in the App Store, but free in Google Play with an in-app purchase to unlock all of the levels.
Why this matters: When you combine piracy with Android's fragmentation it's easy to see why small or independent developers think twice about building an app for the platform. Large companies have the resources to work through these issues, but many times the most innovative and interesting apps come from small teams or one-person shops.