iOS app developer: Android is designed for piracy

iOS app developer: Android is designed for piracy

Summary: An iOS app developer argues Apple's App Store is superior than the Google Play store, and he's not the first to say so. Fragmentation aside, he argues that "closed" is better than "open" because piracy isn't a serious problem, and at the end of the day, most app developers need to make money.

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iOS app developer: Android is designed for piracy

Following Madfinger Games' decision to relaunch one its Android games as a free app due to an "unbelievably high" piracy rate, iOS and Mac app developer Matt Gemmell has weighed in on the situation. He has written a lengthy post titled Closed for Business in which he explains why Android app creators are having so much trouble making money.

The article's subheadings pretty much summarize the piece: Designed for piracy, A broken business model, and Freedom from choice. Here are three quotes from each section that I found particularly worthy to highlight:

  • "The system is designed for piracy from the ground up. The existence of piracy isn't a surprise, but rather an inevitability."
  • "Piracy isn't a symptom of social disease. Piracy is a symptom of failure to find an effective business model."
  • "Open is broken as a money-making platform model, unless you're making the OS or the handsets. Most of us aren't doing that."

Gemmel makes excellent points throughout his piece and I strongly recommend reading the whole thing. Many will be quick to point out that he's an iOS app developer, so his conclusion under the last heading "Lock it down" should not be surprising: "Closed is better for business."

The problem is that he's right. There's absolutely no denying that (most) app developers make more money on iOS and that the App Store is much more profitable for Apple than the Google Play store is for Google.

That being said, however, I don't believe that "closed" is the solution. Gemmel clearly outlines why one is better than the other for app developers, and I do think Google needs to bring some of the App Store's features to the Google Play store, but I also believe Apple should do the same in vice versa.

There is a middle-ground between open and closed, between unlocked and locked, between free and paid. I just don't think we've found it yet, and likely won't for quite a while longer. After all, app stores are still relatively new as a concept as well as a business model.

See also:

Topics: Piracy, Android, Apps, Google, Security

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

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50 comments
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  • Oh Well...

    Google's OS and most of its software are either open source or stolen or copycat...shortcut to quick success... no wonder if 'Play Store' follow that footsteps...
    owllnet
    • Please provide examples.

      I have heard this comment open source is all stolen and copied, but I have yet to see even 1 true example.
      Please enlighten us as to what software you are refering, otherwise, drop the FUD.
      anothercanuck
      • Reread his post

        He said that Google's OS and most of it's software are either open source OR stolen OR copycat... he didn't say that open source software was stolen.

        With Android OS I find it interesting that prior to Google's purchase of it, the release of the original iPhone and iPhone OS, and Eric Schmidt's departure from Apple's board of directors after the announcement that Google was working on their own mobile phone OS that Android resembled RIM's Blackberry OS. Now it looks a lot more like iOS than Blackberry.
        athynz
        • I have read many of Owlnet's posts

          It is a common theme with him/her that open source is all stolen or copied, so while this post is worded slightly different, I am confident the implication is the same.

          And I believe giving examples is just plain good form, as opposed to throwing unsupporterd claims around.
          anothercanuck
          • owl loves ta bash google

            must work for m$
            droidfromsd
          • Right, because no one can have their own negative opinion

            on Google, so that proves they have to be an MS employee!
            William Farrel
          • Haven't you heard?

            Google is more highly looked upon than even Apple! =D Google It!
            slickjim
          • Really?

            I thought think he must work for Apple. Didn't Steve Jobs make it extremely clear and well known that his last goal in life was to see Android burn to the ground? I guess that news doesn't get to South Dakota too well... try googling it... see what I did there?
            ikissfutebol
        • Not sure on that

          While I agree that the first version of Android OS looked similar to Blackberry, at no point has Android even looked anything like iOS. As a matter of fact, iOS is starting to look more like Android with it's "borrowed" ideas, such as the pull down notification, maps, etc. Soon enough iOS will have widgets and maybe even an app drawer.
          SteveWojo
          • Notifications have nothing to do with Android; I had this on my Sony ...

            ... Ericsson cameraphone long before that.

            Maps first appeared on iOS (obviously). Apple contracted Google to bring maps to iOS, disclosed iOS' APIs and design. Eric Schmidt was Apple board member.

            However, Google abused this trust when it decided to steal finger-based multi-touch UI and apply it on Android instead of BlackBerry-like UI Android had at the time.
            DDERSSS
          • Yes and...

            There's absolutely nothing Unique to iOS either!

            Full Touchscreen? HTC did that first!

            Softkeyboard? My friends dad lost to use of both legs and one arm more than 20 years ago! He used a Soft keyboard with a mouse in the mid 90s! Not sure where it started but it wasn't unique to Apple.

            Shake to undo / erase? Etch-A-Sketch!

            Grid of Icons on a 2D Background? Palm did that first!

            Launcher Bar at the bottom of the screen? Yeah, that's never been done before huh?

            There isn't a single thing about the original iPhone that makes it worthy of claiming Android stole its design as the whole OS was taken from other places first and that's a fact!
            slickjim
          • Multitouch Gestures

            You mean like the pinch gesture for zooming in and out that was being developed in 1983? ( http://www.billbuxton.com/multitouchOverview.html )

            or the UI like the pull down notification bar and a multi-tasking OS? (iOS devices did not do these until after Android anyway)
            BorgX
          • Its a copy - Google Felt Touchscreens Couldn’t Replace Physical Buttons

            "While I agree that the first version of Android OS looked similar to Blackberry, at no point has Android even looked anything like iOS."

            You mean the fact that it went from BlackBerry style prototype relying heavily on physical buttons for navigation - to iPhone style with the G1 is not changing directions and looking like Apple's OS? Athynz is correct, Android prototypes looked and performed more like BlackBerry-style phones before the iPhone came out. Then after the iPHone was shown, the decision was made to clone what Apple was doing with full touch-screen phones.

            This was unearth from the Oracle trial: From Google's Android specification documents in May of 2007 (several months after the iPhone's announcement):

            "3.11.2 Touchscreen

            Touchscreens will be supported. However, the Product was designed with the presence of discrete physical buttons as an assumption, therefore a touchscreen cannot completely replace physical buttons."

            http://www.pcworld.com/article/254539/original_android_prototype_revealed_during_google_oracle_trial.html
            dave95.
          • No Dave95 it didn't...

            Go look at it again... All that was different between the two prototypes was the lack of a keyboard on one and coincidentally that one had more space on the display between the top and bottom bar... Other than that, the features were the same!
            slickjim
        • Umm, you sir would be wrong!

          The Tray at the bottom and the Notification Area at the top was always there with Android...

          The two phones were different form factors in that one used a physical keyboard and smaller screen and the other used a soft keyboard and longer screen...

          Android before the iPhone and After, had all the same features present in the UI and these included the tray at the bottom, an App Draw, Notification Bar at the top, and the standard array of apps...

          The soft keyboard was not unique to Apple's iPhone and the Touchscreen phone without a keyboard was not Unique to Apple either.

          Basically, Android or some other party had all of these features before the iPhone was ever even available for purchase.
          slickjim
        • Well I don't know

          Apple copied: the app store from Android (remember the iphone didn't first come with it but the G1 did), google maps, enabled background pix, multi tasking, pull down notifications, app restrictions on gps and on and on.
          LarsDennert
    • so you missed out on

      Articles reading "10 features ios took from android", google it
      HypnoToad72
  • plz clarify, open and closed on what?!

    This article should clarify things on what does it mean as open?! No one put a knife on developer's throats to open their source code! But if he meant a locked down ecosystem is better? that is another story
    L3thargic
  • cry

    i use android because it is open. i do not use iOS because it is closed. in other words, mr matts only chance at ever getting a cent from me is to put his app on the play store for free and make up in ads or a paid app and collect the money where you can. not everyone pirates and most would agree some money is better than no money, unless you have your head up your ass (as he very well might) and would rather sit in a corner and cry then face the reality. the app is built, not like you have to start coding from scratch every day.

    cliff notes, software piracy is nothing new and it will not be going away anytime soon. make money where you can, not selling it for fear of some piracy isnt a very good business decision. lets not forget that the app store has its fair share of piracy issues as well.
    prestone1
    • also

      a number of people who pirate software actually purchase a license or donate to the developer. many are simply looking up their skirt to find out if they like what they see. probably not the majority but again, there is money coming in and that is what this is all about.
      prestone1