“Now that the phone is affordable enough for a wider audience, a new status symbol has emerged: a seemingly useless application called ‘I Am Rich,'” Mark Milian reports for The Los Angeles Times.

“Its function is exactly what the name implies: to alert people that you have money in the bank. I Am Rich was available for purchase from the phone’s App Store for, get this, $999.99 — the highest amount a developer can charge through the digital retailer, said Armin Heinrich, the program’s developer. Once downloaded, it doesn’t do much — a red icon sits on the iPhone home screen like any other application, with the subtext ‘I Am Rich,'” Milian reports.

“Apple apparently had some problems with I Am Rich. After initially approving it for distribution, the company has since removed it from the store. Heinrich, a German software developer, has yet to hear back from Apple concerning the removal. ‘I have no idea why they did it and am not aware of any violation of the rules to sell software on the App Store,’ Heinrich said in an e-mail with The Times today,” Milian reports.

“But Apple couldn’t pull it down before curious aristocrats — eight of them — had purchased it. Six people from the United States, one from Germany and one from France dropped a grand for the gem in the first 24 hours it was available, Heinrich said. That’s $5,600 in revenue for Heinrich and $2,400 for Apple, which collects 30% of each sale for ‘store upkeep,'” Milian reports.

“In the e-mail, Heinrich said there seemed to be a market for the program. ‘I am sure a lot more people would like to buy it — but currently can’t do so,’ Heinrich said. ‘The App is a work of Art and included a ‘secret mantra’ — that’s all,'” Milian reports.

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we, and others, have already said: “I Am Rich” did exactly what it was advertised and designed to do and the price was clearly marked. Unless the app was somehow physically harmful to iPhone and/or iPod touch (highly unlikely), then Apple’s position is simply indefensible and they should make the “I Am RIch” app available again immediately. Apple is completely in the wrong about this and is sliding rapidly down a slippery slope. Which app will Apple decide they don’t like next?

Maybe next week PETA and Greenpeace will join forces to gin up a nice email campaign aimed at Apple that complains of a frivolous game that depicts poor, defenseless monkeys trapped in clear airless balls that frequently roll off the edges of extremely high floating platforms resulting in untimely, and likely horrible, animated monkey deaths which has the net effect of reducing users’ overall compassion for animals while also advocating the pollution of the world’s oceans with balls full of splattered monkey carcasses. Then what? Hello, Apple? Does it sound farfetched? Then you must not have lived in the USA for the last 3+ decades. Regardless, it illustrates the point quite nicely.

As Jason Kottke recently asked, “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?” No, it is not at all different.

To anyone who claims to be “offended” by this app, we hope you are wearing the cheapest watch in the world and driving the cheapest car (and using the cheapest computer, listening to a cassette walkman, eating the cheapest food, etc.) or you’re a hypocrite. Forget about what the app does and what it costs. Those things are meaningless and only obscure the central fact: It’s not up to you, or Apple, or anyone but the buyer to decide if an app is worth buying.

Anyone who supports Apple’s pulling of “I Am Rich” should immediately turn off their computers, grab their placards, and sprint to their nearest Macy’s to protest the sale of Louis Vuitton handbags. Quick, get going! The world needs you to save them from themselves.

Again, what Apple and anyone else personally thinks of the app is meaningless to the salient point here — although Apple and anyone else are certainly entitled to whatever opinion they have of the app and those who buy the app, of course — barring sale of the app is plainly wrong. Look around, Apple. You’re headquartered in Cupertino, not China.

Our Take from yesterday is here.

SEE ALSO:‘I Am Rich’ application for iPhone, iPod touch disappears from Apple’s App Store – August 07, 2008
$999.99 app for Apple iPhone, iPod touch allows owners to proclaim ‘I Am Rich’ – August 06, 2008

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “El Guapo” for the heads up.]