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.”
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, said he made it as a sort of joke.
“I found that some users complain about prices for iPhone applications above 99 cents,” Heinrich 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.”
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:
“I am rich
I deserv [sic] it
I am good,
healthy & successful”
The existence of such an app was perhaps inevitable. For Steve Jobs, who initially opposed the idea of an App Store on the basis that it would result in lesser-quality software, this might have confirmed his worst fears — if the App Store was not already off to such a good start.
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 comes 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 two years ago, adding iOS 12 compatibility and adding other improvements.
What’s the weirdest iOS app you remember from the early days? Leave your comments below.