Impossible to copy iphone app?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by vrrr, Apr 7, 2009.

  1. vrrr macrumors newbie

    Nov 7, 2007
    I was just wondering if I wanted to distribute a custom application on a touch/iphone but didn't want anybody to copy, extract the contents, or redistribute the application, then all I have to do is preload the device (not jailbroken obviously!) with my app and ship it to the end user with my application pre-installed on it so they can use it as is without having to install the application themselves.

    If they tried to copy the application, they can't use DiskAid (b/c there is no access to the root folder without jailbreaking) and if they tried to jailbreak, that would restore the ipod to the factory default with the jailbroken firmware (and not my application) so that is fine too.

    If they tried to connect the device to their itunes library and sync, then it would wipe the existing programs on the device and/or they wont be able to access the filesystem correct? Obviously when they have to charge the device, they would have to connect it to the computer and be careful not to click the synchronise with this computer option. I might give them an external charger just to make it simpler for them incase they accidently click the sync option!

    If the all the above is all true, then isn't piracy eliminated totally? Why don't more developers with high value programs do this?
  2. Sander macrumors 6502

    Apr 24, 2008
    How would you preload it? Using ad-hoc distribution (limited to 500) or using your development provisioning profile (limited to only a handful of devices)?

    Also, the app would be quite high-value to absorb the price of the iPod Touch itself, since it would be a single-purpose device (seeing as even a sync would destroy the app).

    Is illegal redistribution of AppStore software really an issue..?
  3. vrrr thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 7, 2007
    To explain a bit more in detail, I would like to develop a program that would be pre-installed on an iPod touch and then sold to customers for the ~$700 mark. I would absorb the cost of an iPod touch and preinstall the application and ship the device to them (helps with customers jailbreaking and pirating the application, etc..).

    With the ad-hoc process, would I have to register all 100 devices at once with apple or can I wait till I get an order, purchase an ipod touch as needed, register the uuid and then install the provisioning file and repeat as I get more sales with different uuid's and provisioning files? Does Apple currently restrict the number of times a provisioning can be issued with different uuid numbers?

    I was under the impression that Apple won't have to find out what application it is I am coding (the source code, etc.. as it is of a confidential commecial nature) as I won't be distributing via the AppStore. Is there an expiry time associated with ad-hoc provisioning files i.e will they expire after X days?

    As you can tell I don't have a developer subscription yet, but will likely get one soon.
  4. fishkorp macrumors 68020


    Apr 10, 2006
    Ellicott City, MD
    Provisioning profiles are active for 1 year. Not sure what happens to the apps using those after that 1 year though if the profile isn't renewed/updated?

    Why not just do the enterprise developer program? It's $299 instead of $99 (I think) and that way you distribute the applications. Not allowing the customers to sync their devices at all is a pretty crappy thing to do.
  5. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Jul 17, 2008
    I believe quickpwn is supposed to jailbreak a device without restoring the firmware. If my understanding is correct, someone could use quickpwn to jailbreak the ipod without deleting your app, then copy it off the device using DiskAid or SSH.
  6. Interstella5555 macrumors 603


    Jun 30, 2008
    Yes, it is, now that you can run cracked apps on jailbroken phones.
  7. CocoaPuffs macrumors 68010

    Aug 23, 2008
    Interesting as oppose to just selling an app at ~$400, you want the customer to buy the whole package at $700 while stepping on Apple's toes. Presumably you're trying to cut Apple out of their 30%.

    Good luck...and always, have fun.
  8. Interstella5555 macrumors 603


    Jun 30, 2008
    I'm not sure that this is the way that it would work, or that you're conveying what you think will happen. If the app is "preloaded" on the phone, as if you bought an app OTA on the phone, it would copy the app back to the computer when synced. If you're talking about an app that you have on the phone where the owner could NEVER sync their phone for fear of losing the app, I don't really see the appeal. Why would I load my phone to a point where I could never put anything [or even just new apps] on it using the sync function. Good luck, but I don't know that what you're suggesting is either feasible or possible.
  9. vrrr thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 7, 2007
    thanks for all your ideas. seems like it's pretty much foolproof atm (until somebody finds an exploit to enable app folder access with the 2.2.1 stock firmware, or they extract the data from the flash :D).

    i was unaware of quickpwn and i did find an article via google saying that it could jailbreak without destroying data, but that only applies for the photos (and nothing else).

    all of the jailbreaking techniques I have seen require a copy of the firmware and this gets pushed to the phone (quickpwn included).

    if the iphone platform was totally secure, then I wouldn't have to resort to such extreme measures to ensure only paying customers had access to my application. Thank god apple at least disabled disk access for the iphone/ipod touch.

    the biggest side-effect/annoyance is the expiration of the ad-hoc provisioning file. It's only valid for 1 year so I will have to ask my clients to send the device back to me to update the provisioning profile/app every year.

    p.s - all this drama is not b/c I want to sidestep apples 30% commission - If apple had a secure OTA delivery mechanism then I would be all over it - I could never hope to market my application to AppStore's 30+ million devices! I'd be lucky to get 1000 customers...

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