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It's funny.  Laugh. Software Utilities (Apple) The Almighty Buck

8 People Buy "I Am Rich" iPhone App For $1,000 684

Posted by kdawson
from the more-money-than-good-sense dept.
FsG writes "In the first 24 hours that it was available, eight people bought a completely useless iPhone app for $1,000 a pop. This app does nothing except alert onlookers that you have a lot of money. The developer priced it at $999.99, which is the most you can charge on Apple's store. Apple has since yanked the app (without explanation as usual), while the inventive programmer walked away with $5,600."
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8 People Buy "I Am Rich" iPhone App For $1,000

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  • Reason why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Drakin020 (980931) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:03AM (#24525415)
    It's because it got so much publicity. If not for Digg or Fark, no one would have thought twice about it.
  • Re:Reason why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:05AM (#24525477)

    What about our rich, elite egomaniacs? They can't find enough ways to show that they are rich.

  • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:09AM (#24525555)

    but you have to agree with apple for yanking it..

    What if you're a Libertarian?

  • by Baruch Atta (1327765) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:09AM (#24525577)
    buy this program.
    That is, if i was in that income bracket. Let's see, I make about $90k working for the state (very secure, you /.ers) so, $1000 is about one percent of my income. Now, I don't mind buying a frappaccio or other such for say, $5. 5/90000 is (where is that calculator?) .005% of my income. Yearly.
    Divide that into $1000 and you get $18 million. Or so.
    So, if I was making $18 million per year, yes, I would not think twice about dropping a grand on bubkes.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:10AM (#24525593)

    Why would you have to agree with Apple yanking it?

    If the market will bare it, it should be allowed. The iPhone was once an exclusive item, so Apple did this same thing just with hardware.

    This is just Apple being selfish and trying to remove something that mocks them. Stupid if you ask me, let the free market do it's thing.

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:10AM (#24525603) Homepage Journal
    He clicked on "Buy" thinking it was a joke. Maybe he needs an update that makes it say "I am retarded" instead...
  • by Anita Coney (648748) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:11AM (#24525619) Homepage

    "but you have to agree with apple for yanking it.."

    Why? If the developer fully and honestly explained what his app did and did not do, and if fully informed people were willing to buy it, why should it be yanked? Merely because you would not buy it? If that's the standard then nearly all the apps should be yanked.

  • One click buy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sakdoctor (1087155) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:12AM (#24525633) Homepage

    The guy who "accidentally" bought it was an idiot sure. (Assuming that part wasn't staged).

    Is it a good thing that you can buy something literally with one click? I find it reassuring that I have to enter my credit card details, then the little code on the back, and finally the long password that is only stored in my head.

  • Re:Reason why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:14AM (#24525685)

    You would be surprised at the lengths fools and their money will go to set themselves apart as having more money to burn than everyone else.

    Just look at any rap star. Some stupid hick from the ghetto gets a 2-album contract and immediately spends it all on a gold plated house.

  • by db32 (862117) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:14AM (#24525691) Journal
    Why do I have to agree with Apple yanking it? I don't see any violation here. I fail to see how this is much different than cat shit coffee [wikipedia.org] being the most expensive coffee in the world. This isn't even fraud, he isn't even claiming the app does something that it doesn't. Just that it shows that you are rich, and quite frankly, if you are giong to blow $1k on an "app" that does nothing but show a glowing red thing then you just bought the first $1,000 piece of digital jewelry and probably can be considered "rich". Big deal.

    In fact, I applaud this. There are a million ways the rich suck money out of the lower and middle classes. It is nice to see the reverse happen. The amusing part is that the lower and middle classes usually get their money sucked dry through neccesities like gas, water, food, etc. The rich tend to get their money sucked away through frivolous crap like this.
  • by FireStormZ (1315639) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:15AM (#24525703)

    I you are a libertarian you will realize that apple is a privately owned business and has a right to control what software gets sold through their service. You might also realize that many apple users (like my elderly mother for example) use the product because of its stability, and service. If apple allowed just anyone to write anything for their systems they would take a big hit in that sphere of their product offering.

  • Let's be honest (Score:4, Insightful)

    by daveywest (937112) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:18AM (#24525759)

    Everyone who is complaining is jealous that ...

    A. They didn't think of the idea first.

    B. They can't afford it anyway

    C. If they did think of it first, they could have afforded it.

  • by Sorny (521429) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:19AM (#24525779) Homepage
    No, I don't have to agree with apple yanking it. It didn't break any stipulations for having an app hosted. Methinks it put Apple into an uncomfortable position since the app store runs in 1-click buy mode. I think they should disable 1-click buy (or make it an opt-in option), then put the app back up. Easy money for them.
  • Make even more (Score:4, Insightful)

    by llZENll (545605) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:24AM (#24525887)

    Copy app and release as freeware, call it "I Am Smart"

  • Re:Reason why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DangerFace (1315417) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:24AM (#24525901) Journal

    'Whoops! I clicked the 'spend $1000' button!' Hilarious.

    If this is the case then you, my friend, do not deserve a 'spend $1000' button, not to mention that anyone that cares about losing $1000 probably doesn't want a 'spend $1000' button on their phone.

    Just my $999.02 cents...

  • by DriedClexler (814907) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:26AM (#24525945)

    This app does nothing except alert onlookers that you have a lot of money.

    And substance is nothing but the opposite of the void. Talk about understatement!

    "Signaling wealth" is a major part of sexual selection [wikipedia.org], in which a common strategy is to show that you're so wealthy that you can afford various things (the "handicap principle"). It generalizes to other species, for example, how peacocks flash their extravagant feathers to show how fit they are in being able to survive despite being burdened by such ornamentation.

    Signaling wealth is also vital in interspecies signaling, such as how gazelles demonstrate their "wealth" by stotting [wikipedia.org], i.e. showing how capable they are of fleeing predators.

    It's also been argued to form the basis for some altruism, in that people show how much they give to the poor to show how wealthy they are.

    So yes, signaling your wealth IS a useful product function. The problem with the app is not that it "merely" signals wealth, but that it ... doesn't, because it could easily be faked.

  • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:27AM (#24525973)

    Christ, it was a joke. Lighten up, all of you. I can't help the fact that my obvious joke was modded "insightful."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:27AM (#24525975)

    You can still sell your phone.

  • by motek (179836) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:28AM (#24525997) Homepage

    Can't see why. The guy clearly hit the iPhone demographics. This app simply belongs there...

  • Re:Reason why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:30AM (#24526051) Homepage
    That shouldn't be a valid excuse and they shouldn't get a refund. If you think it's a joke share the link with your friends, don't buy the thing.
  • by cliffski (65094) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:30AM (#24526063) Homepage

    Even if I was Bill gates, I would NEVER just throw $1000 away on something silly. Because I know the opportunity cost of that is $1,000 donated to some charity. That probably saves 20 kids eyesight in Africa for fucks sake.

    You have to be pretty amazingly selfish or stupid to throw that kind of cash away, no matter how much you have. It's just an insult to those living on a pittance.

  • by u-bend (1095729) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:31AM (#24526069) Homepage Journal

    It's got nothing to do with libertarian principles, it's just Apple defending their market niche. They can't exactly let just anyone start charging a huge markup for trendy, stylish crap.

    I'm an Apple user, but that's one of the funniest Apple backhands I've seen in a long time.

  • by Vellmont (569020) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:34AM (#24526103)


    Can you come up with an actual, i.e., not a made up reason, why this specific app and only this specific app should be pulled? I won't be holding my breath.

    Because it makes the Apple brand look bad. People spending $1000 on an app that does nothing but be expensive underscores the idea that the iPhone is a useless toy for people to show off extravagance. A $1000 app that does nothing thumbs it's nose at this idea (while cashing out on it at the same time)

    While I think the above is true, and find it extremely amusing that people actually BOUGHT this app, it's not too hard to understand why Apple chose not to associate themselves with this application. Apple doesn't want to be a brand of over-indulgence.

  • Re:Reason why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheLink (130905) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:35AM (#24526125) Journal
    Yeah, they got $999.99 worth of education.

    If they get a refund that education is wasted - they end up learning the wrong thing.
  • Re:Hilarious. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tim C (15259) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:36AM (#24526143)

    Well, I agree that paying huge amounts for clothing, shoes, etc doesn't generally get you something that's hugely better quality, paying very little does generally get you something that's poor quality. Somewhere in the middle is the sweet spot, just as with most things.

  • by hweimer (709734) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:37AM (#24526157) Homepage

    Why would you have to agree with Apple yanking it?

    Money laundering.

  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:43AM (#24526263)
    is the list of people who bought it
  • Re:Hilarious. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:43AM (#24526271) Homepage

    While the "I Am Rich" app is laughable, a lot of this thread is an exercise in relative perceptions.

    Having two pairs of shoes is an extravagance to someone struggling for food and drinkable water. I would probably never spend more than $8,000 on a car - and would probably never spend less than $100 on shoes (and I do have shoes that are worth a lot more.) For myself, there are two "luxuries" that actually really are worth the money you spend on them: shoes and beds. (Kitchenware is up there, too.)

    There are people on this thread who have modified their computers to look like the Death Star, who think themselves superior to people who buy designer clothes.

  • Re:Hilarious. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AshtangiMan (684031) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:47AM (#24526347)
    Uh . . . the future of application design? How about just an extreme example of the present of application design. Most of the apps I use are priced about 10X what they are worth, especially as they have been out there for well over 10 years. The updated versions do relatively little more than the previous, and get exponentially more expensive.

    Autocad, and Photoshop are the two biggest offenders, but I'm sure there are more in the Autocad range ($4000 per seat) for other industries, like FEA for structural analysis, energy modeling, etc.
  • by jrob323 (931808) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:47AM (#24526351)
    He wouldn't be throwing $1000 away. He's just giving it to somebody else. Maybe useless app developer guy would give it to the blind Africans.
  • Re:Reason why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gfxguy (98788) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:49AM (#24526395)

    Yeah... AND? So they're compensating and we're laughing all the way to the bank... everyone's happy!

  • by SQLGuru (980662) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:52AM (#24526443) Journal

    While Apple has an "ask me first option", they should have the option to set specific spending limits. For example, my DVR is set so that the spending limit for the kids is $0.00 without a code. My monthly spending limit is a little higher. Once that spending limit is reached, even I have to enter a code. Best case would a monthly limit and a single purchase limit (example: no more than $5 per purchase and no more than $50 per month without entering a code). And since the App store can install stuff, there could easily be a "trial" period.

    Layne

  • Re:Reason why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by D'Sphitz (699604) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:55AM (#24526491) Journal
    I'd guess most rich people didn't get that way by throwing $k's around. At least one of these 8 sales was a mistake, the rest were probably the teenage girls you see on "My Super Sweet Sixteen" with daddy's credit card.
  • by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:57AM (#24526535) Homepage

    Often, when people are buying things in that way - they aren't spending their own money. Were a lot of those purchases coming in toward the end of the fiscal year?

  • Neither do you.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FireStormZ (1315639) on Friday August 08, 2008 @11:59AM (#24526569)

    If you did you would not get your panties in such a not over a private, free market company providing an and to end computing solution.

    "Before anyone points out that in a free market Apple can do whatever it wants, keep in mind that this doesn't prevent it from violating the spirit of said market."

    Nor it seems does it prevent *you* from violating the spirit of the market by limiting business models used by private companies which in no way effect your fundamental rights. Were apple anywhere near a monopoly could probably be swayed that they need to open up their platform a bit but as it is the consumer is in no way damaged.

    BTW you are free to figure out a way to install whatever you want on your iPhone (contract or not) you just cant demand apple make it easy or support your shiny new brick.

  • Re:Hilarious. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hey! (33014) on Friday August 08, 2008 @12:06PM (#24526749) Homepage Journal

    There's a lesson here for small application vendors.

    You don't make money maximizing the value of the things you sell. You make money maximizing your net margin over all your sales. Of course, everyone knows this, but they don't act like they know it. Salemen running companies are the most prone to thinking gross instead of net.

    I once worked for a guy who was really frustrated that people were making money on trivial apps -- ring tones were his pet peeve -- while he was making good apps that did really important things for people, and constantly scrambling to keep his head above water. Well, that's not a coincidence. If you spent $1.99 for a ring tone, you aren't going to call for tech support. If you spent $100,000 for a piece of mission critical software, you jolly well are.

    So the real determinant of whether you make money with software that does important things is whether you can turn a profit on support. It's better to forgo new sales than to add features to your product that reduce the profitability of support. It can be counterintuitive in a competitive sales environment to let the other guy pick up sales. The instinct is to match him feature for feature in a death match for who will capture the most sales, but if your product has significant support costs, you have to think of the business more like a consultancy. Efficiency and sustainability matter.

    So, if you're looking to make money selling software you develop, you've either got to plan to sell your business to somebody it's more to than the cash flow, or you've got to plan to make money on support.

    That's probably why the open source business model has been more successful than people thought it could possibly be. In the end a sustainable software business (leaving aside novelty apps) has to be built around profitable support. Of course sales do matter, but they're only step 1.

  • how the fuck do you "accidentally" spend 1000 goddamn dollars?

    I don't know, but I'm happy to do the research if you provide the funding.

  • Re:Hilarious. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Friday August 08, 2008 @12:13PM (#24526887) Journal

    Out of curiosity, what makes expensive shoes better than cheap shoes? I don't think I've ever spent more than $30-40 on a pair of shoes, and I tend to wear them at least a couple years before they wear out. I do a lot of walking too, so if my shoes were not up to the task I think I'd notice. What do you get for your extra $100?

    Now a good pair of leather hiking boots can save your life in the right circumstance, so that I can see. But for every day shoes, you get into diminishing returns really quickly. As far as I can tell, expensive shoes just get you a label.

  • Re:Reason why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tommertron (640180) on Friday August 08, 2008 @12:18PM (#24526977) Homepage Journal
    You know what though, this got me thinking.

    Why doesn't Apple have a refund policy for the App Store? The upshot of the DRM on the apps is that they can relatively easily yank the device from your phone once you get your refund. I feel for the guy who clicked it and didn't realize '1-click purchase' was enabled. It was a legitimate mistake - why not let him have a refund?

    To avoid scammers who want to use something until they get tired of it or it outlives its usefulness, just institute a 10-day refund policy. If I can return it and it's not defective, why not give me a refund? Most brick and mortar stores will do this for you.

  • Re:Hilarious. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Friday August 08, 2008 @12:20PM (#24527039)

    Out of curiosity, what makes expensive shoes better than cheap shoes? I don't think I've ever spent more than $30-40 on a pair of shoes, and I tend to wear them at least a couple years before they wear out. I do a lot of walking too, so if my shoes were not up to the task I think I'd notice. What do you get for your extra $100?

    If you can't tell the difference then there is no reason to spend more; however for those that can it is worth it.

    That, of course, is true for most things - why buy a more expensive item when a cheaper one works just as well?

  • Re:Reason why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sm62704 (957197) on Friday August 08, 2008 @12:24PM (#24527119) Journal

    At least this is better than something dangerous to my person and my planet, like an SUV.

  • by DriedClexler (814907) on Friday August 08, 2008 @12:26PM (#24527161)

    To borrow from Eliezer Yudkowsky, organisms are adaptation executors, not fitness maximizers. They have the desires to do the things they were selected for, even and especially if they don't understand why the desire exists, or have its evolutionary justification in their conscious mind.

    People have desires to signal wealth because evolution selected for that. This does not mean people signal their wealth with the conscious intent of finding a mate. It does not mean you "should" look for mates by deliberately signaling wealth. Rather, people will be drawn to things that have the effect of showing wealth.

    Likewise, people do not deliberately think about the impact of giving to the poor on their ability to find a mate; nevertheless, they have a desire to engage in one-way altruism because in the environment of evolutionary adaptation, that strategy worked in signaling fitness, even though today they might rationalize it some other way.

    Just the same, men have a higher tendency to pursue status, whether or not they recognize the connection to access to mates, and women tend to be more attracted to higher-status males, whether or not they recognize that their attraction is due to his high status.

    Your second example, interspecies signaling, confuses me

    Doesn't surprise me.

    For gazelles, ability to run quickly is a form of wealth. By stotting, they signal to predators that they have that wealth and so the predator might as well not waste resources pursuing them. If gazelles ever attained human level self-awareness and intelligence, they would *still* enjoy stotting around those same predators, even though they could identify that it's no longer necessary (because of technological defense measures or whatnot).

  • Re:Hilarious. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by j!mmy v. (613784) on Friday August 08, 2008 @12:27PM (#24527199)

    There are people on this thread who have modified their computers to look like the Death Star, who think themselves superior to people who buy designer clothes.

    No, there's a difference.

    My Deathstar PC is for *me and my guests* to look at and enjoy.

    Your silly designer/handmade non-sneakers are something you think *the rest of the world* would like to see you in.

    Slashdot isn't really the bastion of Sex and the City fashion-crime support you think it might be.

    Also: I modded my machine case myself. That makes it superior to something you bought whole from someone else, even if its planetary laser doesn't quite work yet.

    --j!m

  • by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Friday August 08, 2008 @12:29PM (#24527223) Homepage Journal

    If you were a libertarian, you would realize that people paid Apple for a product that they now rightfully own. Apple instead has decided to control this product and restrict the owners from doing with it as they wish. In essence, Apple has deprived the owners of iPhones their essential rights of ownership.

  • Re:Reason why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smellsofbikes (890263) on Friday August 08, 2008 @12:30PM (#24527279) Journal

    I recently read a book about the service-level class in large Indian cities. One of the sections that really stuck in my head was a stripper's description of the difference between the way rich men tipped and the way rich men who were there with friends tipped: the first group literally threw money at them, while the second group would *turn their backs* on the strippers and just throw money over their shoulders, while talking to their friends.
    Now *that* is conspicuous consumption.

    That's one reason, by the way, that I think preaching to people about the necessity for conservation is useless -- because many people don't really care about living a good life. What they care about is living a better life than the people they're around. So no matter what you tell them, they'll just keep trying to get *more* than everyone else.

  • Re:Reason why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Brigadier (12956) on Friday August 08, 2008 @12:35PM (#24527365)

    I bet my bottom dollar that those who ponied up for this crap are no more rich than you or I. In my experience those who opt for bling ... do so because they themselves are impressed by it.

  • Re:Reason why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Friday August 08, 2008 @12:51PM (#24527633) Homepage

    If by mistake you mean buyer remorse, you're absolutely right.

    I hate the fact that credit cards don't bother to distinguish between buyer remorse and buyer fraud. Sure, in this case it's semi-plausible, but it pales in comparison to the millions of fraudulent chargebacks issued every month by random morons.

  • Re:Because (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lars T. (470328) <<moc.liamelgoog> <ta> <regearT.sraL>> on Friday August 08, 2008 @01:05PM (#24527897) Journal

    The programmer asserts that I Am Rich is a work of art.

    And now it's a limited edition.

  • Re:Reason why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ceoyoyo (59147) on Friday August 08, 2008 @01:10PM (#24527991)

    Yes. Self-made rich people don't get that way by wasting money. Their children, however....

  • Re:Hilarious. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by initdeep (1073290) on Friday August 08, 2008 @01:27PM (#24528281)

    You know what's worse than people accumulating wealth?

    People telling me how I have to live my life.

    If I accumulate wealth individually, and do nothing with said wealth to hurt others, why is it their business?

    and no, merely accumulating wealth is NOT hurting someone else.
    I would argue that NOT accumulating wealth is potentially more hurtful.

    My accumulated wealth will allow me to live my life, without needing assistance from others, and also allow me to DECIDE when and where i SPEND said wealth.
    I could choose to buy some food to eat. Or I could choose to donate money to causes I feel are worthy and help less fortunate people.

    I can also choose to hold onto said wealth for times when I do not have any incoming form of money, and then decide to spend it accordingly.

    Thus preventing the need for OTHERS to support me.

    If I do not accumulate wealth of any sort, then these options do not exist for me, and I am at the mercy of society around me.

    I'd rather have the control myself thanks.

  • Re:Because (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@yBLUEahoo.com minus berry> on Friday August 08, 2008 @01:30PM (#24528347) Homepage Journal

    "Art has no purpose"

    That is a ridiculous statement.

  • by Anpheus (908711) on Friday August 08, 2008 @02:16PM (#24529187)

    There's a clone already available on Cydia, which is the Apt-based package manager you can use on jailbroken phones.

  • Re:Because (Score:3, Insightful)

    by colmore (56499) on Friday August 08, 2008 @02:19PM (#24529247) Journal

    Funny, I prefer not frakkin' consuming so damn much.

  • Re:Hilarious. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by clone53421 (1310749) on Friday August 08, 2008 @03:24PM (#24530375) Journal

    1. Every computer app ever designed involved programmers to a very great extent.

    2. Have you used it lately? The scripting window doesn't pop open when you start it. Maybe the programmers hadn't created a GUI for the startup yet... what does that prove, anyway?

    3. It's able to do everything I learned to do in my Photoshop class. So maybe I'm not a professional graphics design artist... GIMP suits me fine.

    4. The user interface is terrible? Well, I can live with some inconveniences to save hundreds of dollars. It's still functional. And since it's an open-source project, all it means is smart people like you need to get involved and make the interfaces better.

    Also, for the record, it's properly referred to by simply "GIMP". The name is an acronym. "The" isn't part of the name. The logo is in informal all-lowercase, "gimp", but the name is never printed that way in normal English usage.

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