Apple pulls the $1,000 program with no function

Chris Green,Foisol Al-Ali
Saturday 09 August 2008 00:00
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It is surely the world's most ostentatious and pointless electronic accessory – an application for Apple's iPhone which costs $1,000 (£520) to download and has no practical use.

The appropriately named "I Am Rich" program, created by a German iPhone software developer named Armin Heinrich, displays a large red ruby on the gadget's screen, but has no other purpose than to broadcast the wealth of anyone arrogant enough to download it.

Posted on Apple's online store on Tuesday, the program was purchased by eight people before the company took it down after receiving a rash of complaints from downloaders – consigning I Am Rich to the rubbish heap of electronics history.

The identities of the eight enthusiasts who downloaded the application – six from the US, one from Germany and one from France – remain unknown. However, at least one person was left with a sizeable hole in his bank balance after downloading the program by mistake, thinking it must be a joke. On a review of the application on Apple's website, the aggrieved downloader wrote: "I need someone from Apple to help me with this scam. I saw this app with a few friends and we jokingly clicked 'buy' thinking it was a joke, to see what would happen. I called my Visa card and they verified that my card was charged for $999.99."

The price tag of $999.99 was the maximum amount that developers were allowed to charge for a single program on the App Store. Armin Heinrich's original product description read: "The red icon on your iPhone always reminds you (and others when you show it to them) that you were able to afford this. It's a work of art with no hidden function at all."

Heinrich, a German software developer who has made several other applications for the iPhone, made $5,600 (£2,800) from the eight sales after Apple pocketed a 30 per cent cut. But he was in the dark as to why the company removed his program from their site. "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," he said. "I am sure a lot more people would like to buy it, but can't do so."

The third generation of iPhones – which can be used as telephones, music players and internet browsers – was launched by Apple last month. The company has also created a special site, known as the App Store, for iPhone owners to download programs on to their new gadgets. They mostly range from 59p to around £6, and vary in style from the practical to the downright ridiculous.

Among the more useful programs available for download are a phone version of Google Maps, and a personal organiser called "Remember the Milk". The more frivolous applications include the "iPint", created by Carling, which allows users to drink a virtual pint of lager.

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