By now you've surely heard the story about the "I Am Rich" app that sold in Apple's iTunes store for the ridiculous price of $999.99 (U.S.). What you may not have heard was that there were eight people who actually bought the app - six in the U.S. and two Europeans. So far, there only appears to be one person who bought the app in error, if a certain screenshot circling the net is to be believed. But what about the other seven? Did they know what they were getting into? And, if so, was Apple right to remove the app from their store?
The App That Did Nothing
The "I Am Rich" app was not a scam. It did nothing and it clearly stated as such its description at the iTunes app store. The app simply displayed an image of a glowing red ruby that "always reminds you (and others when you show it to them) that you were rich enough to afford this." When activated, the app displays a larger, glowing gem. According to the author, Armin Heinrich "it's a work of art with no hidden function at all."
But the clear description of its uselessness didn't convince at least one of the app's buyers not to purchase. Instead, he believed the app was a joke. According to a screenshot of an App Store review circling the net, a customer with the screen name of "Lee5279xx" complains that when he and some friends saw the app, they jokingly clicked "buy." Unfortunately, he had forgotten that his wife had "iclick" activated on the laptop, so he actually bought the app for $999. Of course, he immediately called Visa but they couldn't do anything until they talk to the vendor, and, at the time he wrote the complaint, Visa had not been able to reach either Armin Heinrich or Apple.
"I Am Rich" Gets Blacklisted
Now the I Am Rich app has been added to the mysterious Apple blacklist which also includes NullRiver's NetShare tethering application and a harmless movie listings app called BoxOffice. All three apps have been pulled from the store with no explanation as to why. Apparently, not even the developers know why, either. According to an interview with the LA Times, Heinrich states "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."
Obviously, the customer complaint may have something to do with its removal. But that's just one of the seven customers - who are these other customers and how do they feel? If they knew what they were doing and bought the app (yes perhaps as a joke, but knowingly so) and have no regrets, then what's the problem? Why remove the app from the store?
What To Do Now?
Assuming that the one customer complaint is real, (which seems likely), how should this problem be handled now? Should the developer have to refund the money? Technically, he did nothing wrong. His app performed as promised. Should Apple then be responsible? After all, aren't they the ones responsible for vetting the apps in advance? Perhaps they should have never let it into the store to begin with. Or should the customer just bite the bullet and pay up?
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