by Kevin Donovan

Filed Under:
apps, i am rich, iphone, openness


Eight $1,000 App Buyers Later, And Apple Pulls It

from the wrong-way dept

Two days ago we wrote about the "I Am Rich" iPhone application, which, for the staggering sum of $1,000, provided you with - get ready for it - a glowing red screen. Although it struck many as a complete waste of money, the application did not seem to be breaking any of the App Store rules and was upfront about its lack of utility. However, a vocal number of observers were shocked by what they saw as a dereliction of gatekeeper "duty" by Apple. Now, in response to the protests, Apple has removed the application without notifying or explaining to the developer why.

But before Apple could do so, 8 willing buyers downloaded the app. In contrast to those calling it a joke or insult, it seems that the application had found a market - the developer netted $5,600 in only a couple hours. Although one reviewer claims to regret buying the app (he thought it was "a joke"), one wonders if Apple should be playing nanny to iPhone owners who make $1,000 jokes, only to regret it. The App Store has only been around for a couple of weeks and, of course, there are going to be kinks to work out. But without clear rules, developers and buyers are going to become increasingly disillusioned with the system. When Apple decided to make it a gated community, they created a false sense of security. And by attempting to recapture that security, they are only moving further from the winning approach - openness.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Ima Fish, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 10:13am

    What I find hilarious is that people will spend thousands, tens of thousands, and yes, even hundreds of thousands of dollars on so called precious gems.

    And what do they do with those gems? You're not going to believe this, they wear them as trinkets!

    And here's the best part, the price of the gems bear no relationship to their actual value. In fact people are willing to pay inflated prices to make themselves look better in the eyes of others, for some bizarre way I don't fully understand.

    Now I would never buy a gem to wear as a trinket. But I would also never want to ban jewelry stores from selling them. As long as people are fully informed about what they're buying, and if there are no safety issues involved, I see no reason why anything should be banned.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    mini-me, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 10:40am

    People are jealous?

    (I don't own an iPhone, and I did not buy this app)
    I really don't get this, why are people up in arms about a stupid app that does nothing, and is upfront about it? The application devs did not deceive anyone, they did say that the app did nothing. If peopel want to throw their money away on trinkets, let them!

    Apple should not be playing gate keeper for the apps.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Rekrul, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 10:43am

    Apple is just jealous that the other company can charge twice as much for a status symbol as Apple can.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Aug 8th, 2008 @ 10:46am


    Only seven bought it according to the developer. It looks like two did so by accident, but I'm not sure if they are part of the seven or not.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    completemoron, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 10:50am

    Im digi-fabulous with my iBling!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Ima Fish, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 10:51am

    Re: Seven

    How in the frick do you accidentally buy a 1000 dollar app for a phone?!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. icon
    Murdock (profile), Aug 8th, 2008 @ 10:52am

    Lets take a look at a buyer...

    From The Register:

    Yet he stated he did intentionally click Buy, the problem was his wife had enabled one-click buying (isn't that patented?) and bam! $1,000 gone. Too bad, if you don't REALLY want to own something, why would you click Buy on the store site? Even as a joke. And secondly, he claims its a "ridiculous scam" yet it clearly understood what it was, the cost, etc. He's just upset that he's been made a fool. Judging by his post on Gizmodo, he was a fool to begin with.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Freedom, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 10:52am


    I think it is interesting in that this application can really only exist in a locked down environment like the iPhone.

    Ironically, it is what gives it perceived value.

    In a similar way as the cartel gives diamonds an artificial value, so does the iPhone environment.

    In a snob way, with lots of extra money I could see at least some seeing the appeal. It isn't so much about value, but saying I can spend a thousand dollars on wall paper for my iPhone type of BS.

    Besides if you are willing to pay twice as much for your laptop with lesser specs just because you have to have an Apple, then why wouldn't you be willing to spend a $999 on some pretty wall paper?

    I think the real reason why Apple took it down was because they are going to have their own Apple version of the app and are just mad that they didn't think of it first. Hell, I can see Turtle Neck Wonder Boy showcasing it now at the next big Apple Event.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 10:53am

    Apple is clearing the market for their new app called iRich. The application will give you the abilty to choose from 3 different glow colors, and it will only be $1500.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    chris, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 11:03am

    Apple did the right thing. The biggest complaint about the Facebook Platform is that it's cluttered with bad, useless apps. There's no reason for this app to exist and Apple is taking the responsibility to protect it's platform from spam like this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Kevin Donovan, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 11:09am

    Re: Bad Apps

    The Internet is filled with crappy sites. Should we ban those?

    No. Because they don't get in the way and, as the 8 buyers in a couple hours shows, obviously some people want them around.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Matt, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 11:11am


    This is another case of a "governing body" protecting its poor, unintelligent populace. Why should anyone have the ability to waste $1000 on something when one person may spend that $1000 and regret doing so? Because the stupid and weak must be protected from making mistakes! It's not fair to let an idiot reap the consequences of an idiotic action. Other people may laugh at that idiot and cause him to have hurt feelings.
    Nothing, absolutely nothing is worse than hurt feelings. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names hurt worst of all.
    I think this moron deserves a Darwin Award. And we need a new award for "Dimwit who ruins it for the rest of us." That's right, buddy. You are that guy. Enjoy the spotlight.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Ima Fish, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 11:12am


    "There's no reason for this app to exist and Apple is taking the responsibility to protect it's platform from spam like this."

    Well, at least 8 people found a reason for it to exist. You don't agree with their reason, I certainly do not agree with their reason, but I have yet to be given any basis to ban something merely because I don't like it.

    And as to Apple's responsibility, only an Apple-fan would see a need to have the hardware he bought limited and protected against free choice. If you cannot trust yourself to protect your hardware, how in the frick can you trust a mindless corporation to do so?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Ima Fish, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 11:16am

    Re: Idiotic

    Perfectly stated, I agree totally.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Matt, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 11:17am

    I saw some news articles that were talking about some code embedded in the iPhone to delete these applications, So what happens to the money spent by the iPhone owner? Does the software Developer get to keep it since it wasn't him who pulled the license for it, what if he already spent his $5600? How about the Client who paid $1000 for an app that gets deleted without his concent? Maybe Apple should just hold on to it and get interest off it until they can figure it out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    VMD, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 11:17am


    There's just as much reason behind software trinkets as behind jewelry, luxury cars and other bling we shell out money for. Rich and silly people have the right to be rich and/or silly, and Apple should not try to take this fundamental right away.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    wasnt me!, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 11:21am

    Iphone Auction?

    the ppl who got the App arent affected right?

    so there are only 8 Iphones in the world that have that app legally that is.

    i bet anything those phones will have an increase in market value.

    think of it 8 ppl paid 1k USD in a few hours for a "cool" or what ever you want to call it app even though it wasn't a limited edition. Now that there are only 8 and there will never be more than 8....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Jake, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 11:28am

    You'd think that after putting their entire marketing effort for the iPhone into attracting wealthy idiots who want to impress other wealthy idiots, Apple might have a bit more sympathy for the guy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    Mojo, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 11:40am

    Of course the big issue here is, without any defined rules, where will Apple draw the line at apps it considers "worthy" of selling?

    Would a $500 screen saver with 256 colors have been ok?

    Would $1500 pong be allowed?

    To be fair, Apple has always controled their market, and for the most part, it has been to the benefit of their customers. We all know that if Apple decided to play "app police," most likely all the apps they ban would be worthless anyway.

    While I agree that their definition of "open" is more like "iOpen," in the long run it's probably better for everyone if they police the app store and make sure that obvious crap doesn't clutter it up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Castor Troy, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 11:42am

    This is just Stupid

    First I own an Iphone (my wife does as well).
    I like my Iphone, but do not believe it to be the "one" or any other non-sense. It just works for the way I live today. I am very happy that Apple brought out the App. Store, though I would have thought they would want it out at the very beginning and I also do not agree with their limiting Applications to a Choosen Select Few.
    I will say this is my only Apple product and most likely my last, as I believe that i should have the right to be in this case stupid (1000.00 dollar app that does nothing, piss off)or use Box Office or some other App that someone else thinks is offensive.

    I mean think about it, they sell an App that allows you to play Texas Hold'em, that promotes Gamblnig and offends me, where is Apple at rescueing people from being pulled in to the den of Pollution that is Gambling (APPLE please read this as sarcasm and do not pull the game, or hell go right ahead)

    All in all I have tried Apple, The Hardware was cool, the company, service, and software blows Ass.

    Anybody need an Iphone? I am getting a Crack-berry or a Palm ...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Hank Roenfeldt, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 11:42am

    Opportunities and better way of doing it

    For Apple, this teaches people they can be irresponsible when purchasing items with iTunes.

    Secondly, there appears to be a market for such status symbols. But I wonder about apple's stance on "real" apps that could really enhance business operations. I know a company who is porting several Windows Mobile apps for Engineering firms. Because they are so specialized, existing apps cost tens-of-thousands of dollars.

    If Apple wants to send a signal that they the platform isn't for business or uber-luxury by eliminating high-priced apps, thats the way to do it.

    A better idea is to have a specialized area for high-priced apps. It could be "Apple Premier Apps" or something. When purchasing in "Apple Premier Apps" disable One-Click purchasing and also have a big red banner and flashing lights for any single purchase over $100, Add a 10-second timer to the confirm purchase button so people can have a moment to really think it over.

    Don't play the gatekeeper. There's a line of thousands trying to get approved and their apps into the AppStore. It's already bureaucratic enough.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Bober bobersky, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 11:43am


    Well seeing at least 5 or maybe 7 peopel actually wanted to pay 1k for it, shows it is not useless to some. Look at the idiot stars that pay thousands to have their iphones covered with sequins and such. This is the market, the paris hilton wanabee.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Aug 8th, 2008 @ 11:58am

    Re: Re: Seven

    "How in the frick do you accidentally buy a 1000 dollar app for a phone?!"


    More interesting is that five to seven people intentionally bought this. That surprised me, but now that I think about it I could see myself doing that if I was a hell of a lot wealthier. "Clever idea, kid. I LOLed. Here's a grand." Sort of a lower-rent version of tipping waitresses Cadillacs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Ortzinator, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 12:23pm

    Re: Re:

    People click on spam links all the time, that doesn't mean spam is okay.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    DS78, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 12:55pm

    Where do I sign up?

    As a developer I'd like to get in line for this App Store. I could probably pinch off a few useful apps in a short time. Maybe I can charge a billionndy dollars for them too!

    No seriously where do I sign up?


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    sicks tea nein, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 12:59pm

    price cap?

    Why doesn't apple just put a cap on the price for an app?

    Nintendo does it with its downloadable game service WiiWare?

    Or did they just think people would be reasonable? (which is always a dangerous assumption to make).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 1:14pm

    Re: price cap?

    They do have a price cap.
    It's 999.99

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    Me, ya me., Aug 8th, 2008 @ 1:18pm


    I am confused. One would think that since apple sells computers with hardware marked up 200% that they would appreciate that the most expensive app is a markup too.

    I bet they are going to hire that guy!! Look out here comes Jobs successor!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. identicon
    offroadering, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 1:27pm


    This app was not and is NOT SPAM... it seems that this app is everything it says it is. hidding nothing, and promised nothing more than what the consumer got....

    thinking about this app. reminds me when the ifone first came out... "who the hell is going to pay 400 bucks for a phone"... oh yeah the same people who want a $1000 screen saver. Duh.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 1:34pm


    I wish my GF had same mindset as urs :(

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31. identicon
    Abdul, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 1:38pm

    Re: People are jealous?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32. identicon
    campbell, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 2:09pm


    Same as the lottery being a tax on the stupid (you do understand your odds, right?) and speeding tickets being a tax on the unaware (they can't see everyone else braking for the guy in the yellow vest?), for anyone willing to wager $1000 on this being a joke, this is a tax. Its been paid by the one guy (so sorry that you're mad, but you gambled and lost) and now Apple is protecting the public from themselves.
    I thought it was ridiculous when I first saw the story, and knew that there would be someone who bought it. If I would've spent any more time thinking about it, I would've realized that at least one of the people who bought it would proclaim their stupidity to the universe by jumping up and down and demanding (in public, no less) a full refund because Apple didn't protect him/her.

    Oh well, $1000 is a small price to pay for a wake up lesson. I'll bet you click the YOU HAVE WON! banner ads, too, don't you?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33. identicon
    Think just a little bit further, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 3:20pm

    Not that silly

    The apps were bought from Apple, who now owes 70% of the price to the developer. If, as likely, some of the buyers reneg on the payment, for example through their credit card, Apple is stuck with the bill. They should have made the rules clearer, for sure, but I do not know the exact terms of their agreement with the developer, the terms of the agreement between the buyer and the iTunes store, and how a court would interpret them. It looks like a move to try and reduce their exposure, and that would not be that dumb.
    Then, of course, there is the impact on the image. There are enough people out there who have never used a mac and still view (often vocally) macs as expensive restricted toys for snobs, without having bothered to check any price/specs data or understanding the value of having hardware and software coming from the same source. Apple does not need to give them ammunition by publishing such an app.
    Again more clarity up front would have been much better, but correcting the mistake after the fact is not necessarily stupid.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34. identicon
    Rose M. Welch, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 3:30pm


    If you are paying inflated prices, it's because you're too stupid to find an honest jeweler and are probably spending your time at big-box chain stores.

    If you shop with an honest jeweler, you might realize that the margins in this particular luxury market are narrowing as jewelers try to keep costs down for thier customers.

    You would also know that the term 'precious', as related to gemstones, is an antiquated and hasn't been used by professionals in years. Really, Fish, if you don't like gemstones, buy a clue instead.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35. identicon
    Rose M. Welch, Aug 8th, 2008 @ 3:34pm


    The worst thing about America is that it's filled with bad, useless people who only critize our administration. There is no reason for these citizens to exist and our administration should take the responsibility to protect it's political platform from naysayers like this.

    Yeah, that's a great principle, Chris.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 9th, 2008 @ 1:01pm

    Honest Jeweler?

    Rose, even the most honest jeweler is exactly like this developer who created the $1,000 app. They are providing a perfectly good service, but that service is selling something with little innate value for huge prices, purely as status symbols.

    Not all jewelry is worthless; some has a lot of skill that goes into the handcrafting. But there's no real reason Diamonds should be worth anything more than cubic zircona. It's all just a game of pretend.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37. identicon
    John Wilson, Aug 9th, 2008 @ 1:25pm


    What spam, chris?

    It's not like it suddenly appears on your iPhone, dips into your bank account and slips out with a grand in its pocket.

    You actually have to look for it! Then click on the darned thing to buy it!

    And if two out of seven bought it by mistake I'm forced to wonder what else they bought "by mistake"!



    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38. identicon
    Rose M. Welch, Aug 9th, 2008 @ 4:30pm


    Yes, yes, there is. Just like there's a reason that the Barbie play laptop is less expensive than a Dell.

    In the case of a diamond and a cubic zirconia, the difference is that it takes sooooo much more time, experience, equipment, labor, and education to mine, cut, and sell a diamond that it does to mash a CZ together in a lab. That's not even including the various taxes and laws that you have to navigate in each country between the mine and the store.

    I am incredibly tired of people talking about industries that they know nothing about and don't understand. It's like comparing the technology industry to the food industry. It's even worse than comparing apples and oranges, because at least apples and oranges are fruit. There are too many variables and differences to speak of. Y'all remind me of John McCain talking about the intricasies of the Internet's infrastructure. (Not that he has. But how he would sound if he tried, sans speechwriter.)

    Oh, yeah, and your diamond is worth more on a world market than your dollar is, and it's not subject to much in the way of inflation. (Less than 20% in 14 years, from rap.) So just keep talking about the worthlessness of it while your dollar sinks into oblivion and you can't afford meat anymore.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39. identicon
    free market, Oct 12th, 2008 @ 8:11pm

    it's capitalism

    If you want to spend $1000 on red wallpaper, its your prerogative. People spend $50,000 on curtains only to decide they don't like them and throw them away - and don't try and tell me that they somehow cost that much to make. You are paying for the design. And more importantly, you are paying for the symbol of status, the ability to say to someone else "I can have this and you cannot." as petty as it is.

    What would really make me mad is if I spent my $1000 to get my status symbol, and someone else comes along and takes it back. I miss the days when you bought something, you could do whatever you wanted with it (for the most part)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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