Today in Apple history: Dev defends I Am Rich, his useless $1,000 app

Today in Apple history: Dev defends I Am Rich, his totally useless $1,000 app

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I Am Rich
The I Am Rich app could be yours for the bargain price of $999.99.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

August 10 Today in Apple history: Dev defends I Am Rich, his totally useless $1,000 app August 10, 2008: The developer of I Am Rich, a pointless app that sold for a whopping $999.99, defends his notorious creation as “art.”

After Apple removed I Am Rich from the App Store in the wake of controversy over the app’s outrageous price and total lack of usefulness, its creator, German developer Armin Heinrich, says he made it as a sort of joke.

I Am Rich: A totally useless $1,000 app

The existence of such an app was perhaps inevitable. For Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who initially opposed the idea of an App Store on the basis that it would result in lesser-quality software, the I Am Rich app might have confirmed his worst fears — if the App Store was not already off to such a good start.

Launched on July 10, 2008, the App Store quickly became a hit among iPhone users. However, it also set a pricing precedent, with most apps selling for less than a dollar. And that’s what I Am Rich developer Heinrich took aim at.

“I found that some users complain about prices for iPhone applications above 99 cents,” he told The New York Times. “I regard it as art. I did not expect many people to buy it and did not expect all the fuss about it.”

Shockingly, the I Am Rich app gets bad reviews

The app drew withering reviews from the tech press, and yet eight people paid to download it. Most amazingly of all, only two of those (apparently totally loaded) suckers asked Apple to reverse the sale.

The app itself did nothing useful. When opened, it displayed a red jewel on the user’s display. When pressed, the following mantra appeared in large letters, complete with a typo:

“I am rich
I deserv [sic] it
I am good,
healthy & successful”

The I Am Rich app also prompted early questions about whether Apple should allow a “try before you buy” policy for the App Store. While Apple did not seriously consider such a policy, the concept fuels the plethora of free apps that offer in-app purchases today.

The sequel: I Am Rich LE

As for Heinrich, people reportedly bombarded him with messages — “many of them insulting,” he told The New York Times.

That harsh feedback didn’t stop him from a sequel called I Am Rich LE. The $8.99 app came with a calculator and a spelling-corrected version of his “famous mantra.”

Released in 2009, it failed to achieve the same notoriety as the original, although it probably picked up one or two more users. Heinrich updated I Am Rich LE to add iOS 12 compatibility and other improvements, but it has since disappeared from the App Store.

What’s the weirdest iOS app you remember from the early days? Leave your comments below.