Apple stomps out websites selling iOS beta access

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iOS developers may be given the ability to register up to 100 devices for one $99 per year payment, but that doesn't mean Apple wants this access sold off to just anyone.

Reports are now streaming in that Cupertino has began to invoke the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in an effort to close up shop on websites offering beta access to anyone willing to pay.

A number of websites popped up in recent years offering access to early iOS betas for as little as $8.99 per device, requiring little more than the Unique Device Identifier (UDID) number of your iPhone 4S, iPad or iPod touch.

One such website called UDID Activation claims to have sold access to 2,300 devices over the last week alone, raking in a cool $20,600 at $8.99 each - and that's only the latest of 19,000 devices they claim to have activated thus far.

Apple steps up

Unfortunately, Apple frowns on such activity, and expressly forbids such abuse for those who pay $99 per year to become developers.

Apparently tired of turning a blind eye, Cupertino has shut down these illicit websites at the service provider level, capping off the virtual gold mine of income for those shady enough to sell off UDID registrations.

The news is music to the ears of legitimate developers, including En Route! President and Founder Dave Smiddy, whose free iPhone app helps keep loved ones up-to-date while users are traveling.

"It's an interesting attempt to monetize the scarcity of pre-release software as well as the human desire to be first and different," Smiddy laments. "Having pre-release OS is exciting to a small audience of non-developers. Even though there is some demand, selling it is against Apple's terms so that just seems silly for a serious developer to do."

iStoryTime founder Woody Sears, whose company offers a wide range of popular licensed apps featuring beloved characters like The Smurfs and the Penguins of Madagascar, is quite happy to have iOS locked down the way Apple intended.

"Apple has created such an efficient marketplace for developers and for the price points that we sell our apps, I can't imagine a scenario where the economics would make sense to manage the distribution of iStoryTime apps on our own," Sears said.

Although a number of such websites have been squashed in recent days, a few continue to operate - at least for now.