Devs: 'Pirates are flogging OUR stuff on BlackBerry's App World'
Android coders say their gear has been stripped out and RIMmed
In its enthusiasm to stock its App World shelves, RIM has reportedly inadvertently invited in the pirates, according to Android developers who've said they have seen their work replicated at the burgeoning store.
Android devs said they had seen their apps turning up in RIM's App World despite their lack of interest in the BlackBerry marketplace, or perhaps because of it.
The matter came to light when one developer said he'd received a request for support from someone who'd purchased the BB version of his app, despite the fact that he'd created no such version:
"I figured they were running some kind of Android ROM on their devices," says the reddit posting from the developer. "I asked one of them for his Google account, and he informed me that he only had a BB ID, not a Google account, and that he had downloaded the app from BB App World".
He complained to RIM, and his apps seem to have been delisted, but there are still numerous Android apps which appear credited to new developers on the App World.
The reddit poster is far from alone in his plight. El Reg noted four well-known apps in BB World submitted by one specific vendor. When we emailed the original developers, two of them got back to us within a short period to confirm that the apps were pirated copies. We'll update you if we hear from the others.
According to the developers, pirates are downloading Android apps, stripping out the copy protection (easily achieved by reverse-engineering the Java code) and converting them to run on BlackBerry 10 using RIM's online tool. Once that's done, the devs claim, they can be submitted as "new" apps into RIM's software store, as it lacks the original, and few developers will ever notice.
Other examples abound, though not all are illegitimate. Opera-owned app publisher Handster store, for example, has a contract with developers that allows Handster to port Android apps to BlackBerry and submit them to App World without seeking additional permission.
RIM hasn't got back to us with comment, but told CNet that it was against piracy and would deal with complaints promptly.
The emphasis is therefore again on developers to police their own copyright infringements, just as authors and musicians have to spend a proportion of their time searching for illegitimate copies of their own work. ®
Why aren't they doing it themselves?
If it's just a question of submitting the app to the online tool and BB do the rest why aren't the developers of these apps also offering them for BB?
It must be worth their while as it seems to be worth it for the pirates.
>> admitting that whatever target architecture you are emulating has already won
Very sound point - Symbian fell afoul of this with *nix compatibility - originally there was a very cut-down stdlib implementation with the explicit goal of just barely getting the Java VM to run and the app story was "for full grunt learn to love Symbian C++ or go the MIDlet/applet way". And the story on grunt was impressive at the time: SOS was engineered so that sensibly-written code was both frugal and safe.
But it was apparent that native SOS C++ was a real deterrent (poor tools, mediocre documentation, source not available, no automation for porting) so large efforts were devoted to supporting much of the POSIX APIs, resulting in a large stack of code with unimpressive performance and inadequate POSIX compatibility (eg the set of independent SOS file and comms services were never perfectly hidden under file descriptors). So the trade-off was more apps but less differentiation from competing platforms; taken to an extreme for apps developers a SOS device would have just been an irritating variant on a *nix phone. And about the same time the traditional SOS advantage of frugality was bypassed by Apple & Android, as it became evident that the market was very happy to trade-off device cost and battery life against features and responsiveness: the microwatts saved by a native SOS app were irrelevant set against the big-screen backlight.
At least in the past the Microsoft answer was "Hotel California": make it extremely easy to port into your platform (be it document formats, keyboard mappings (Excel 2010 still has some Lotus 1-2-3 support), lots of good doco), and not such good support for leaving. Of course this doesn't address the needs of cross-platform developers looking to maintain a single code base but that used to be less common - and really you want your platform to capture and hold developers. Speaking as a developer this is of course EVIL, but their shareholders across a couple of decades have a different take.
Re: easy conversion service
"The fact that most devs haven't bothered gives you an idea of how credible Blackberry is at the moment."
As I understand it RIM have made it effectively free (with a degree of guaranteed income) to put apps on their store. If the port process does work out to be simple, why wouldn't you? It almost doesn't matter whether Blackberry is credible or not, nearly free money is always worthwhile.
"Of course, there are a bunch of APIs that don't work - so my app just fails the bundling process (it uses multicast wifi for bonjour)."
That's a pity, I was hoping that RIM would have strived to do as complete a job as possible at replicating the Android Dalvik environment. I hope they're being responsive and helpful (you know, the kind of things that a struggling outfit needs to display if they're going to engender good will). Good luck.