I remember getting my first smartphone that used real and true mobile applications, the iPhone 3G. It didn’t take me long to find the jailbreak community and start modifying my phone to whatever extent I could. It was a fun time. True smartphone apps were in their infancy, but growing and maturing fast. It was also a time that my naivete was ripe. I really had no clue what it takes to develop mobile apps (or any application for that matter). I remember browsing through Cydia (for those that don’t know, Cydia is the iOS jailbreak app store) and finding all sorts of fun little apps…apps that gave me pull down toggles, apps that changed the icons on my springboard, and just about any other app I wanted or needed. I also found other apps like the ones that gave me access to “pirate apps” (paid apps that are made available for free) sometimes called “cracked apps.” It was then that I started using pirated apps and continued on into my adoption of Android. When I got to Android I was rooted and ROM’ed within hours of getting my Samsung Captivate. The first thing I did was hit the black market, finding all those apps I wanted that cost money on the App Store but I didn’t want to pay for. One of the very first paid apps I found on the black market was ADW Ex Launcher by developer Ander Webbs, This is one of the first truly awesome customizable launchers for Android. I continued on finding app after app, even apps such as navigation apps, that had a hefty Playstore price.
It wasn’t long after that I was approached by one of the development teams on xda, Team Phoenix, and was asked to join the team and help them with wallpapers for their custom ROM (Mosaic). I was totally honored and jumped on board with enthusiasm (Team Phoenix has since split into The Collective and The Family). It was my time with Team Phoenix and The Collective that I started meeting and talking with developers. I met many custom ROM developers and got to follow several application developers. Having this experience allowed me to put a face to some of the applications I was using and the reality check kicked me square in the jaw. These pirated apps were someone’s work, someone’s living. It is easy to convince yourself that it is only a couple bucks…no harm no foul. But imagine one hundred people convince themselves a two dollar app was worth pirating. That’s two hundred dollars that was just taken from the developer. Now can you imagine someone coming to your house and just taking a couple hundred dollars from you? This is the real cost of pirated apps. There are other prices to pay when pirating apps such as getting an application that may contain malware and other garbage that can have adverse effects on your device, but to me that’s karma catching up to you.
I’ve had the tremendous honor and privilege to have talked to more developers now on Google Plus, such as Ander Webbs of my very first pirated app ADW Ex (BTW, I have a legal and true copy of ADW Ex now). I’ve also had the pleasure to interact with Kevin Barry of Widget Locker fame (which by the way was another app I pirated and since paid for). Then there are theme developers like Jeppe Foldager, Alex Miller, Nick Miltner, Kahil Nettleton and Tha Plash (so many more to name but that would take a good amount of space). All these and more are awesome people who work ultra hard to not only develop an application but design themes, icons and wallpapers that make our devices look brilliant. The real cost of pirated apps is paid by these people, their families and their wallets. No one likes to work hard and not be rewarded. I also understand the lure of free stuff, why pay when you can get it for free? Hey, I have been there, I have pirated apps, I am no better than anyone else. So don’t take this editorial as a preaching session, don’t walk away thinking I am some holier than thou jerk. I made my mistakes and took apps that weren’t mine to take. But I learned a lot during that time. I learned that my wanting to save a buck or two might have helped me pick up an extra Big Mac or two, Except while I was saving that buck or two, the other guy has to deal with hundreds of me’s, which meant he was losing hundreds of dollars. We all have our own choices to make. This editorial is simply sharing my experiences and lessons learned. Thanks to all you developers that work really hard to bring us applications, themes, icons and more and make our mobile experience better and more pleasant.