Monument Valley bucked the freemium model last year and was highly successful. They made news recently by discussing their download numbers. It seems the headlines focused on this: Only 40% of iOS downloads were paid. Does that mean that 60% of downloads were pirated? That’s what the headlines would make you think, but I found it difficult to believe that was the case.
The company later clarified by stating “a portion of those are people who have both a phone and a tablet”.
That is significant. When you consider how many devices the typical Apple household has, most of the 60% are probably not pirated. I don’t even play Minecraft and I have probably installed it at least four times on different devices for my kids and my own phone. Grabbing the 40% number for iOS piracy is just another one of those headlines that attracts eyeballs but has little substance behind it.
Indie developers of paid apps can spend way too much time trying to figure out how to stop iOS piracy. I remember a couple years ago I was worried about piracy on one of my paid apps. It was a $3.99 app and a good revenue producer. I spent a significant amount of time researching app piracy and everything involved. Like most of us, I had pirated plenty of software in my younger days, so I knew how common it was. Then I heard an episode of Build & Analyze with Marco Arment where he discussed the reasons he, for the most part, ignores piracy. His post here sums it up nicely.
“Or you could just ignore the pirates, since hardly anyone jailbreaks their phone and they’ll never pay for anything anyway, and spend that time making the app better to attract more paying customers.”
This is pretty much what I was thinking as I was researching this problem. It sucks to think that someone is stealing your software, but it’s not worth your time to risk hurting your current users with anti-piracy measures. Instead, spend your time coding, marketing, and coming up with great app ideas.