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The World Of Selling Access To iOS Betas

The World Of Selling Access To iOS Betas

Andy Baio reports on the not-so-underground world of selling access to iOS betas to people who are not developers, but are simply interested in trying the latest OSes during their beta stages.

For a small developer, unauthorized activations are a lucrative business that’s likely worth the risks. UDID Activation publishes their order queue on their official site, which shows more than 2,300 devices activated in the last week alone. At $8.99 for each activation, that’s more than $20,600 in revenue, with $2,277 paid to Apple for the 23 developer accounts. Their homepage claims that more than 19,000 devices were activated so far, and that’s only one of several services. And since device activations only last for a year, each service can reuse their expired slots with no additional cost.

Without having to read the warnings that Apple puts on the Developer Center (and that, as Baio details, appear to be completely ineffective against sellers of paid activations), it’s important to remember that betas need to be tested by developers because only people with a technical knowledge can report bugs, send feedback, and lead to a better final product. The iOS beta isn’t meant for the general public: it is a an ongoing collection of changes, updated APIs, and visual refinements that only a developer can properly evaluate, understand, and criticize.

That’s not to say regular users shouldn’t be interested in trying the latest toys before they are released because Apple’s site says so. We at MacStories, too, have access to iOS betas but we are not developers ourselves; however, that access is necessary to have a better understanding of things to come (without breaking the NDA). The negative side-effect of spreading iOS betas to users who aren’t willing to treat them for what they are – betas – is, instead, a worrying amount of iTunes reviews for apps that can’t be updated for iOS 6 yet. We have written about this last year, and Rene Ritchie recently posted his thoughts on the matter as well.

It’s okay to be curious about the future. But the proliferation of “UDID Activation” websites has generated a number of repercussions on third-party developers, and that’s a problem Apple needs to fix.