The $1,000 application on Apple's App Store, which lets people know how rich you are simply for buying it, has been removed without explanation, making some developers wonder what it takes for Apple to pull the plug.
The "I am Rich" application developed by Armin Heinrich, a German software developer, does nothing more than display a picture of a red ruby on the iPhone screen. After initially approving the $1,000 application, Apple removed it from the store this week. Eight people managed to dish out $1,000 to buy the useless application, generating about $5,600 in revenue for Heinrich and $2,400 for Apple, which collects 30 percent of each sale on the App Store, according to a blog on the Los Angeles Times Web site.
Developer Heirnrich told the LA Times in an e-mail that he had no idea why Apple had pulled his application, since he was not aware of violating any rules of the software store. He claims that Apple has not provided an explanation as to why the application was removed.
I suspect the application was removed because Apple was afraid of being sued. Some people had already complained on the Web that they had clicked on the "buy" button for the application accidently. Considering that major wireless carriers, such as AT&T, have started settling class action lawsuits with plaintiffs who say they were hoodwinked into signing up for recurring charges for ringtones and other content, it's not surprising that Apple would try minimize liability. The European Union is also cracking down on wireless operators that allow companies to sell bogus products via cell phones.
But even if Apple had a good reason for removing the application, developers are concerned by the lack of communication from Apple about how and why certain applications are allowed or denied access to the App Store and why some are removed.
When the App Store was first announced earlier this year, company CEO Steve Jobs said there would be limitations on what applications could be sold. Specifically, he stated that porn would not be allowed. And beyond that, he left it pretty open. Now these loosely defined criteria are frustrating some developers.
At least two other applications have been removed from the App Store in the past week with seemingly no explanation. Several blogs have reported that Box Office, a movie showtime resource, and NetShare, which let people use their iPhone 3G as a modem to connect their laptops to the Internet, have also been removed from the App Store. At least in the U.S., exclusive wireless provider AT&T has explicitly said it does not allow the iPhone to be used as a laptop modem.
Nullriver Software, the developer of the NetShare application told MacWorld that it had tried for several days to reach someone at Apple to get an explanation for why its application was removed. The company said it finally made contact, and now is working with Apple to get NetShare back on the App Store.
Cyrus Najmabadi, developer of BoxOffice, also told MacWorld that he had tried to contact Apple to find out why his application had been removed, but he said he got no response.
Apple also did not respond for comment on this story.