‘I Am Rich’ developer sold 8 copies for $999.99 each before Apple censored app

“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.]

118 Comments

  1. Hey if you can get it… so be it!

    Besides those nine buyers saved a bunch… they ended up with a all most one of a kind application and they don’t have spend the money to have there iPhones gold diped and encrusted with stones… in there minds it’s a bargin! <GRIN>

    People of wealth thinking is more often thaan not a little off… after all most of them are fascist republicans and voted for Bushism more than once!

  2. Jake,

    Frivolity often masks matters of importance. Especially to the less bright among us.

    MDN asked, “Which app will Apple decide they don’t like next?”

    That’s hardly a frivolous question.

  3. If a retailer is stocking a product with basically scam-like intentions, let’s it in the store anyway, and then receives serious complaints from the few customers that actually bought it, they have every right, nay a *duty* to remove said product.

    From the dictionary:

    “Scam
    –noun
    1. a confidence game or other fraudulent scheme, esp. for making a quick profit; swindle. “

    Explain to me how the “I Am Rich” app was a con game or fraudulent in any way. The author clearly described what the app did and there was no attempt at deception on the price.

    Is it a silly app with no usefulness whatsoever? Yes, but that doesn’t make it a scam. Learn what words mean…

  4. @The Other Steve

    You are largely correct – but on the same token, you’re using your definition of ‘scam’ to apply to other people. Do you believe a Ferarri is a scam because a Toyota gets you from A to B as well?

    As MDN says, the point is that Apple is only hurting itself with this practice of retro-actively vetting apps – and harmless ones at that. For someone, I Am Rich might be the best app they’ve ever bought, and others may find it an overpriced scam, as you essentially value it.

    See, in a free market, the consumer is the ultimate arbiter of whether a product is a success or failure. Equally, the market allows provision of all manner of products to suit tastes on the individual level.

    How does Apple hope to retain developers with this sort of behavior? The least they could do is provide a simple explanation of why this app offended them so much.

    Then we can all move on.

  5. Maybe those that show off about their wealth deserve to be fleeced of their excessive cash.

    Maybe, but it’s not Apple’s place (or anyone else’s) to determine upon what they spend their money.

  6. Actually, it is so easy to buy this software I think it was a good thing (pulling the software from the app store)… I could see my mother accidentally buying this thing and getting a bill for $1000! She has actually done this twice already… remember not all folks that use the iPhone are savvy.

  7. WTF is happening at Apple? The Apps Police are in full swing? Heck, I don’t know any fool that would spend this kind of money for an app, but if it’s selling, why take it down? Now there is talk of Apple having the ability to remove apps from our phones?

    This is absolute bullshit. It’s something I would expect out of Redmond, NOT Cupertino. Apple should not have the right to determine what apps should be removed, let alone have access to our iPhones to disable apps. They are moving down a a very slippery slope. A huge disappointment to say the least.

  8. MDN, you have argued yourself into a circle. Especially in the days before Intel Macs and Bootcamp, you repeatedly stated that it didn’t matter how many apps were available for Windows, the best of class were available for the Mac. So you didn’t have to wade through a bunch of garbage apps just to get one that worked well. Now you are whining about Apple pulling a garbage app from distribution.

    Since Apple completely controls the store, there is valid concern regarding how Apple intends to exercise its right of ‘censorship’ with respect to publicly available apps. At the same time, Apple does have the right to choose what it sells and what it doesn’t through its store. Apple has undoubtedly elected not to host many applications on its app store, but it didn’t become an issue until Apple pulled one useless app that could result in ridicule and long-term damage to its reputation. In addition, what detrimental effects might the proliferation of numerous garbage apps have on the usefulness of the app store? Maybe Apple should create an exclusive ‘novelty’ category to group all of the useless apps that few will ever buy.

    By the way, your arguments about watches and cars is not relevant. Regardless of its cost, a functioning car or watch does something useful. And an expensive model often offers enhanced functionality, materials, workmanship, warranty, service/support, etc. that provides added value to the customers. This app seems to have no redeeming qualities along those lines. You might very well be able to come up with better examples, but expensive cars and watches is not your best choice.

    In addition, in responses to criticisms of Apple, MDN Takes ® have often stated that Apple has to make choices that best serve their customers, and sometimes those choices are not popular with subsets of their users (say professionals seeking high end graphics cards or enterprise support). Well, Apple made this choice, too, and you do not have to own an iPhone or iPod touch or shop at the app store if you not choose to do so. Apple has broken no promises of which I am aware regarding the content of the app store or the functionality of apps that would become available to users.

    Unless/until the restrictions on iPhone/iPod touch application distribution are loosened, Apple controls that game. Vote with your dollar, but don’t go overboard with the MDN Takes ® to the point that they become MDN Rants. That detracts from your credibility.

    How many times have you promoted the idea that th

  9. Jeremy,

    As one of the “idiots” here who is “100% completely wrong on this issue”, I was wondering. By your reasoning, shouldn’t the sale of those exorbitantly priced gas guzzling SUVs have been prohibited? After all, a lot them are simply status symbols.

    Shouldn’t the government have done like Apple and protected the public from this “scam”?

  10. Apple has every right to pull any app it wants to for any reason because it’s a private store. They’re not the government and have no duty to provide anyone with anything that they don’t want to.
    That said, as someone who values freedom of choice and personal responsibility, I strongly disagree with their decision. Yes, the app is incredibly gauche, but people do distasteful things with Apple products all the time and I don’t see them trying to stop people from searching for porn on their macbooks or playing Brittney on their iPods.
    However: MDN’s take is pisspoor reasoning. From what I’ve heard, this app serves no purposes but showing off, while MDN’s other examples can have gradients of quality that may be worth money. While there are status symbols, a more expensive watch or car will almost certainly provide benefits (speed, comfort, durability) that cheaper alternatives won’t. It’s for each customer to decide whether the benefits are worth the cost. I’m personally offended by ostentatious displays of wealth that serve no purpose other than showing off, but that doesn’t mean I hate all nice things. If you spend the dough on an M3 because you really love to drive and utilize capabilities beyond those of a Kia,then more power to you. If you dropped the dough on a Porsche with auto transmission, you’re probably just a dick with security issues, and there’s a big difference between the two.

  11. Bruce,

    “And a stupid app like this makes all us fanboys look bad. If my son or daughter were to click on this app I would really be upset with Apple. Thanks Apple, I for one appreciate it.”

    Just curious Bruce, but if you have bought iPhones for your kids, couldn’t you have an iTunes Store allowance set up for them that would preclude them being able to do this? I mean, if a child is that irresponsible should they even have an iPhone? No disrespect intended.

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