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 had 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 letter:
“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 would have confirmed his worst fears — were the App Store not already off to such a good start.
The app also prompted early questions about whether Apple should allow a “try before you buy” policy for the App Store. Apple didn’t seriously consider such a policy, although the concept fuels the plethora of free apps that offer in-app purchases.
I Am Rich, v2.0
As for Heinrich, he was reportedly bombarded with messages — “many of them insulting,” he told The New York Times.
That didn’t stop him from releasing I Am Rich LE, a $9.99 app that came with a calculator and a spelling-corrected version of the “famous mantra.” It failed to achieve the same notoriety, although probably picked up one or two more users. It was last updated in early 2016, when Heinrich added iOS 9 compatibility.
What’s the weirdest iOS app you remember from the early days? Leave your comments below.