A short time after Apple launched their App Store, reports of odd and unexplained spikes in new user numbers started flowing in. Developers started getting angry because the number of downloads reported by iTunes had to be wrong; new user stats were far beyond what iTunes was logging.
The unfortunate became clear when it was realized that the reporting wasn’t wrong, but was a direct result of app piracy. As Apps were released, pirates hacked the software to make it available for use with jailbroken iPhones. As soon as the pirated versions of these apps become available, there is a massive spike in new user numbers.
Statistics reported by Pinch Media show that the typical lifecycle of a pirated app covers about 5 weeks of activity, starting with a massive spike and 2-3 weeks of sustained high activity, eventually trailing off to several weeks of much lower but still significant piracy.
This piracy is made possible by groups like iPhone Dev Team (not to be confused with actual Apple engineers), who work on each new release of iPhone OS to enable jailbreaking. Jailbreaking allows iPhone users to install unofficial software and access the core operating system of the iPhone.
Pirates have a new worry when it comes to the 3GS, however. Apple has been hard at work and seems to have released a bit of new factory installed code that so far has stumped those looking to jailbreak the device. Even the latest version of the PwnageTool fails to crack the new code, when it seemingly has no problem with iPhone OS 3.1.2.
While it is doubtful that the new security work done by Apple will last, it has definitely put a roadblock in the way of groups like the iPhone Dev Team, and may slow them down long enough to take the next step in the fight. The problem will only continue to grow, however, as long as the general public looks for the cheap way out.