Technology

I Am Rich No More

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Blogger extraordinaire (and novelist) Alan Vanneman alerts us to the case of the disappearing iPhone application: I Am Rich, a silly and extravagant program that costs $1,000 and simply showed a glowing red jewel on the must-have comm device. Writes Vanneman:

You could have gotten it from Apple's App Store, for a mere $999.99, but apparently Steve [Job]'s gang decided that dropping a grand on a meaningless excrescence didn't really fit with Apple's jeans, black tee, and brushed titanium ethos. Bad news for "Heinrich," the dude who came up with the app, but, probably, good news for the rest of humanity.

More here.

The LA Times writes:

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 to The Times on Thursday.

But Apple couldn't pull it down before curious aristocrats had purchased it—eight times. Six people from the U.S., 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."

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."

More here.

Does this sort of policing of apps by Apple worry you? Should it? Does this sort of spending by eight people worldwide bother you? And should it?

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  1. For something that probably took an hour, $5600 isn’t a bad return.

  2. Yes, it really bothers me that people spent $8,000 on this, but only because I didn’t think of it first.

    Maybe if I hurry, I can make a blue one that says “I am overclass” for $99.99

  3. Does this sort of policing of apps by Apple worry you?

    That’s not all they do.

    But it’s their store. Apple fanboys are all subconsciously aware of Apple’s controlling tendencies and they like it, so I doubt it will bother them.

    Does this sort of spending by eight people worldwide bother you? And should it?

    Not at all. The app is brilliant. Many expensive things are status symbols, but are expensive or difficult to produce, like Ferraris, yachts, etc. This cost the developer nothing. If Apple hadn’t pulled it, I would bet he would have made substantially more money. In fact, now that they’ve pulled it, it’s even more valuable, and if he can get it back in the store he’ll make a ton.

  4. You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time . . . and that’t sufficient for more purposes.

  5. No
    No
    No
    No
    I’m sick of the Apple-user agenda though.
    They can get married in Cupertino now, what more do they want?

  6. Doesn’t bother me that it was made.
    Doesn’t bother me that it was bought. It’s their money.
    Doesn’t bother me Apple shut it down. It’s a privately owned store.

    I like the Economist’s take on it. What would be the equilibrium price of a useless piece of software like this?

  7. I saw an article somewhere that some guy clicked on “buy” thinking it was a joke, and got really pissed when his 1-click settings made him actually purchase the thing. So he raised a stink, and Apple pulled the app.

  8. Laura –

    Which is the first thing I thought for the reason why apple pulled it. Dealing with angry customers and negotiating refunds is a waste of Apple’s time and resources. They figured in the long run it would save them the hassle and cost.

  9. I guess I won’t be publishing my “URKOBOLD LOVE CLUB” bling app.

  10. @Laura:

    The rest of the story, as I’ve heard it, is that dude’s girlfriend surreptitiously enabled 1-click purchasing, and thus dude was still expecting a confirmation screen. So as you can see, the excuse is as old as time.

    Doesn’t bother me that it was made. Bothers me that as many as seven people with possibly enough discretionary money to buy a small country could be so easily hornswaggled. That’s the sort of thing that makes me wonder whether it’s all just a crapshoot.

  11. The secret mantra is “Owa Tagoo Siam”.

    Send me money, please.

  12. Does this blogpost get less obscure if I click through the links?

  13. episiarch:

    Great link which sums up Apple’s mystique B.S. Just sent it to my friend who has an app that got sued off the tubes. He’s wondering if it will ‘disappear’ off his phone.

  14. Doesn’t bother me that it was made. Bothers me that as many as seven people with possibly enough discretionary money to buy a small country could be so easily hornswaggled. That’s the sort of thing that makes me wonder whether it’s all just a crapshoot.

    You just don’t understand bling. DeBeers has the whole world “hornswaggled” Diamonds are just rocks with some interesting physical properties. They’re not even that rare.

  15. What would crack me up is if the next iPhone update wiped the app from those (8!) that bought it, as it is no longer officially sanctioned by Apple.

  16. If he was really smart he would have set the price at a million.

  17. Does this sort of spending by eight people worldwide bother you? And should it?

    If people want to spend their money on this, or spinner rims, or trophy wives, or anything else that’s basically useless — hey, it’s their money. Or, rather, it WAS their money.

  18. “Does this sort of policing of apps by Apple worry you? Should it? Does this sort of spending by eight people worldwide bother you? And should it?”

    I think apps that are so much more expensive than the median are worth avoiding, at least until Apple can set up a special area for them. It’s entirely conceivable that an app could be reasonably sold for $999 – a vertical market tool for doctors or lawyers or traders, for instance. But I think it’d be a good idea to have them in their own area where one-click doesn’t apply.

    From Apple’s perspective, it’s best if the apps are priced within a range small enough that the user doesn’t even really need to worry too much that a $9.99 app was actually $999. (I mean, that’s enough money to cause a family significant problems if money is tight.)

    If the customer has to think twice before clicking ‘buy’, that’s an opportunity to decide not to buy at all.

    If the useless app could be listed in an iTunes VIP champagne room, then I think there’d be no problem with it being $999. Likewise, if it were $9, I don’t think there’d be any problem with having it in the regular store.

  19. “What would crack me up is if the next iPhone update wiped the app from those (8!) that bought it, as it is no longer officially sanctioned by Apple.”

    Apparently it just shows a picture, so it could be easily replaced that way.

  20. I am the only one who feels the need to point out the obvious fact that the iPhone itself is blatantly overpriced. I assume the banned the app because it made that fact a bit too obvious to customers.

  21. I am the only one who feels the need to point out the obvious fact that the iPhone itself is blatantly overpriced.

    The 3G iPhone retails comparably with the Blackberry and other smart phones. I’ve seen dumb phones that cost as much as the 8 gig model.

    Does this sort of policing of apps by Apple worry you? Should it? Does this sort of spending by eight people worldwide bother you? And should it?

    No to all of the above. With the addendum to the latter two that the end of this app might be a boon to the struggling tophat and monocle industries.

  22. Can I still call an Apple from my Cricket?

  23. On a similar note, I’ve never understood why cultured pearls are less valuable than natural ones. Pearls are basically oyster boogers: if a grain of sand or some other irritant comes between the oyster’s body and its shell, the oyster surrounds it with mother-of-pearl to make it less irritating. In a cultured pearl, the irritant is deliberately put into the oyster’s shell, whereas natural pearls result when irritants enter the shell on their own. But the end result is exactly the same.

  24. I would argue that anyone buying a diamond is a bigger idiot. To my knowledge, not many people died in producing this app.

  25. Jennifer,
    to most outward appearance natural and cultured pearls are identical, but cultured pearls are generally made with a large shell bead core and just a few layers of nacre, as opposed to most natural pearls which are have layer upon layer built up like the rings of a tree around a very small irritant. You probably couldn’t tell the difference between a good-quality cultured pearl and a natural one without an x-ray, but solid balls of nacre seem to be pretty collectible.

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