David Watanabe (developer of apps including NewsFire and Xtorrent):
The only alternative to “network-mediated activation” is to furnish the user with an serial number or unlock code of some sort. This is, as everyone knows, a ridiculously weak barrier. One malicious user can post their code on a website and the scheme is broken forever. I did experiment with this unlock codes back in the day and came to the unfortunate realization that for every legitimate user, there were 10 others who were using a pirated code. Clearly offline unlock codes aren’t a viable solution at all. Relying on “honesty” is a huge mistake.
Ambrosia Software has a very clever product activation system, and I recall that they published information regarding how registrations went way, way up after they switched to that system from simple unlock codes. (I can’t find a working link to that story, however. Update: Found it.)
As Mark Pilgrim wrote, the biggest problem with any activation system like this is that your software won’t be installable if the company goes out of business.
★ Tuesday, 17 April 2007