(Updated February 3, 2009 11:38 AM PST: It turns out that the Crackulous pirating and reselling was all a hoax—an apparent attempt to make a point about pirating. And it was a believable hoax at that--it sure fooled us! Crackulous is a real iPhone application, however.)
Gizmodo reports that Crackulous, an iPhone application that makes it easier to pirate iPhone apps for use on jailbroken iPhones, was released. As its name might suggest, Crackulous strips the copy protection scheme put in place on iPhone applications purchased from Apple's iTunes Store, allowing anyone to share the cracked app with friends or on BitTorrent, peer-to-peer networks, or file-sharing Web sites (sharing copyrighted material without the copyright-holder's permission is, of course, illegal in the United States).
Ah, but there is a twist in this story.
In an exchange posted on Gizmodo, a person claiming to be the author of Crackulous emailed to explain that a link to Crackulous that Gizmodo posted linked to a pirated version of Crackulous. That's right, the maker of an iPhone app allowing users to pirate other iPhone apps had their own app pirated, and got upset over it. Talk about poetic justice.
In one of the emails, the supposed Crackulous creator writes, "...I need people to support my work... I deserve appreciation," apparently not realizing the fact that Crackulous's mere existence means that some iPhone app developers will not get the appreciation and support they are due.
Incidentally, Crackulous is a free, open-source application; the individual hawking the pirated version charges $10 for it.
We don't condone piracy in any form, but the matter of iPhone app piracy does highlight one legitimate issue with the iPhone App Store as it stands today: The lack of iPhone app trial versions. Currently there is no way to try an iPhone app before you decide to buy it. I imagine that at least some of those who may be interested in iPhone app piracy fall into this camp. Hopefully this is one issue Apple will rectify in the not-too-distant future.