According to BSA figures billions of dollars are lost to software piracy every year, when people use cracks and keygens to run counterfeit software rather than buying properly. BSA is talking about $50 billion to be exact, give or take a billion. How did they come up with that figure? One cannot help but wonder, but as I have my own piracy data for xplorer˛ I thought I should cross confirm the BSA statistics.
Is software piracy something that should be accepted stoically as a fact of life doing business in software or can we do something about it? Nowadays we can put a brake on the distribution of pirated software through file sharing websites using DMCA notices to remove illegal downloads from rapidshare.com etc. But would that make any difference? If just people from poor countries 'shop' from rapidshare, then we won't gain much simply because people that don't have money cannot become paying customers. But what if not-so-poor people do it too? Forcing the latter to the straight and narrow could boost an ISV's profits considerably.
Pirates of the carribean
As all software xplorer˛ has its illegal downloads. There are patches that circumvent the DRM completely and keygens that output (supposedly) perfect unlock keys so that people can use xplorer˛ without paying. The fact of the matter is that these keygens are not perfect and xplorer˛ can tell the difference between a legally bought key and a counterfeit one, and plays a few tricks to the freeware-enthusiasts. I tracked the IP addresses of these people over a short period to get a statistically significant sample (NB no private data were collected).
Data: Piracy on the map
Data: Piracy rates
The rates by continent can also be estimated if I approximate the (unknown) geo-location of people who install xplorer˛ from the spread of the website visitors around the world. Table 2 indicates an agreement between my measured data and those reported by BSA for 2009, but for most cases my figures were worse (increased piracy)
Impact on sales
USA is by far the best customer and on its own amounts to more than half the xplorer˛ sales. At the same time quite a few people in the USA use xplorer˛ without paying (see table 1 above). Let's say that by waving a magic wand we convinced all these users to purchase a license, assuming the same conversion rate (purchases/installs) as any normal customer. The result? 20% increase in sales, from USA alone!
Of course some people are allergic to buying software so even if there were no warez versions to download they would just move to the next competitor file manager. However there are people who only need a slight push to keep them honest, so eliminating the illegal downloads could easily add 20% to your income!
Using specialized tools like crack tracker you can limit the availability of illegal downloads of your software and make more money. As for the pirates, I regret any inconvenience caused <g>
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