Why Mourn the Death of Pirates?

by Steve Wildstrom   |   January 1st, 2013

Cnet screenshot

At some level, I have a bit of grudging admiration for CNET for publishing an article so obviously hostile to the the interests of its corporate parent, CBS. But on the other hand, it is long past time for anyone who want to be considered a responsible commentator on tech to praise common thievery. Christopher MacManus writes:

For many years, Installous offered complete access to thousands of paid iOS apps for free for anyone with a jailbroken iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Think of it as being able to walk into a fancy department store, steal anything you want, and never get caught.

In my personal experiences with the app, I could often download the latest iOS applications and games for free from a variety of sources within mere seconds. After downloading, you could then install the app on your iDevice as if you purchased it from Apple’s App Store. Additionally, during its prime, it wasn’t unrealistic to expect expensive App Store apps hitting Installous mere hours after release.

I suppose it would also be nice to be able to shoot people I don’t like, but we don’t allow that sort of thing. Folks who download commercial apps they haven’t paid for don’t even have the lame excuse of those who torrent movies or TV shows that aren’t otherwise available for download or streaming. It is stealing pure and simple, and most of the time it isn’t ripping off some big corporation (another lame excuse for theft) but picking the pocket of a developer.

Maybe CNET intended this as some sort of New Year’s joke, in which case it isn’t very funny. MacManus identifies himself as a freelancer, so I imagine he expects to be paid for his work. He should extend the same courtesy to others.

 

Steve Wildstrom

Steve Wildstrom is veteran technology reporter, writer, and analyst based in the Washington, D.C. area. He created and wrote BusinessWeek’s Technology & You column for 15 years. Since leaving BusinessWeek in the fall of 2009, he has written his own blog, Wildstrom on Tech and has contributed to corporate blogs, including those of Cisco and AMD and also consults for major technology companies.
  • Glaurung-Quena

    the most frustrating thing about that article is that it completely mischaracterizes jailbreaking as something you do if you want to pirate software, full stop.

    There are dozens of useful apps that Apple does not make available on its app store that will run on a jailbroken device. There are lots of reasons to jailbreak a device that have nothing to do with piracy. I jailbroke my iPad so that I could install adblock and a 5 row virtual keyboard on it — both apps which I paid for at the Cydia store.

  • http://twitter.com/OgreDennis Dennis Baker

    Jeff Gruber often won’t link stories he doesn’t like because he doesn’t want to drive traffic to. You might consider doing the same.

    I haven’t jailbroken my iPhone, but I agree with Glaurung-Quena, the best things jailbreaking offers is apps that aren’t available on the iTunes store for some reason or another.

    • steve_wildstrom

      I generally agree with Gruber (BTW, it’s John, not Jeff) and thought for a bit before I included that link. But I concluded that even with a fairly lengthy quote, readers would do well to see the whole piece to judge its tone for themselves. Also, it wasn’t the sort of stupid piece I hate to link to; it’s just an opinion I strongly disagree with.

      I agree that there are all sorts of reasons for jailbreaking iPhones and I have done it myself. I don’t especially recommend it because it seriously compromises iOS security, but sometimes the legitimate advantages outweigh the risks.

      • http://twitter.com/OgreDennis Dennis Baker

        Gah. For some reason “Jeff Gruber” sticks in my head and I use that in spite of knowing better.