“Apple has spit out a pit in its iTunes App Store, a controversial $999.99 ‘glorified screensaver,'” FOXNews reports.

“A glance Thursday of the store showed no offering for ‘I Am Rich,’ created by someone named Armin Heinrich. The app displays a glowing red gem on a user’s iPhone screen for the sole purpose of proving to onlookers one is of the moneyed class,” FOXNews reports.

“But on Wednesday, when the app was present in the iTunes store, a little pop-up message told us ‘I Am Rich’ is not available for sale to U.S. residents” FOXNews reports.

Full article here.

From what we can tell, “I Am Rich” did exactly what it was advertised and designed to do. If Apple yanked a perfectly working application out of their App Store because someone inside or outside Apple found it offensive, then they totally blew it; they’re completely in the wrong and sliding rapidly down a slippery slope. Forget about what the app does and what it costs. Those things are meaningless and only obscure the central fact: It is not Apple’s, nor anyone else’s, right or responsibility to decide if an app is worth buying or not.

If, however, Heinrich himself pulled it in order to try to grab a little NetShare-type pub, then more power to him. If he pulled it for any other reason, we have no problem with that either.

Again, the only issue we have is if Apple pulled the app for any reason other than it was somehow potentially physically harmful to iPhone and/or iPod touch run this benign little app. If Apple pulled it because they didn’t like the app’s intent and it offended them (as if a company that sells US$29 socks for iPods has any right to be offended), then their position is simply indefensible and they should make the “I Am RIch” app available again immediately.

Let the market decide, Apple.

One caveat: If people were mistakenly “buying” the appropriately-quite-expensive app via 1-Click, then Apple should figure out a way to prevent this from happening (perhaps institute an App Store 1-Click cost threshold and/or an “oops, quick delete my purchase” option available for a short timeframe for those using 1-Click) and then make the app available again.

Jason Kottke writes for kottke.org, “‘I Am Rich’ isn’t the most clever piece of art, but it’s not bad either. For some, the iPhone is already an obvious display of wealth and ‘I Am Rich’ is commenting on that. Plus, buying more than you need as an indication of wealth is practically an American core value for a growing segment of the population. Is paying $5000 for a wristwatch or $50,000 for a car when much cheaper alternatives exist really all that different than paying $1000 for an iPhone app?”

Kottke writes, “Excluding ‘I Am Rich’ would be excluding for taste…because some feel that it costs too much for what it does… App Store shoppers should get to make the choice of whether or not to buy an iPhone app, not Apple, particularly since the App Store is the only way to legitimately purchase consumer iPhone apps. Imagine if Apple chose which music they stocked in the iTunes store based on the company’s taste. No Kanye because Jay-Z is better. No Dylan because it’s too whiney. Of course they don’t do that; they stock a crapload of different music and let the buyer decide. We should deride Apple for that type of behavior, not cheering them on.”

Full article here.

Daring Fireball’s John Gruber explains another possibility, “If everyone who ‘buys’ this app is then demanding a refund or credit card chargeback, you can see why Apple, or perhaps its author, Armin Heinrich, would take the app down. And what makes me think it was Heinrich, not Apple, who pulled the app is that with the App Store, developers pay the refund fee. It’s entirely possible that Mr. Heinrich is already on the hook for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of dollars in refund fees.”

Full article here.