On June 29, 2007, Apple released the iPhone, to much fanfare and with incredible success. Just over a year later, on July 9, 2008, Apple introduced the iOS App Store, allowing software developers around the world to build programs for these relatively-new touchscreen mini-computers. It didn’t take long for both developers and customers to flock to this virtual store. On September 9th of that year — two months after the App Store opened for business — Apple announced that there were 3,000 different applications available which users had collectively downloaded more than 10 million times. About 20% were free and in total, 90% sold for under $10. But one of them sold for a bit more than that. It cost $999.99, the maximum allowed by Apple. And the app did almost nothing. By design.




The “I Am Rich” App, pictured for sale above, was released on August 5, 2008, less than a month after the App Store opened. The consumer electronics and Internet world was dominated by talk about apps and smartphones and other things which are now somewhat commonplace, and the hype inspired developer Armin Heinrich to do something bold and, ultimately, a tad sycophantic. Had you bought the app and open it up and you’d be presented with a red glowing crystal or sorts and an info button, as seen below. If one clicked on the info button, as promised by Heinrich in the product description, a “secret mantra” appeared. It read “I am rich. I deserv it. I am good, healthy & successful.” And yes, “deserve” was misspelled.




That’s all the app did. It was an app which cost a lot and didn’t really offer much in return — which was exactly the point. If you could afford an app which cost $1,000 and did almost nothing, you were certainly rich! And amazingly, eight people bought the app within a day — before Apple removed it from the App Store. Apple didn’t give a reason, but it could be because at least one “purchaser” thought the app was a joke and was shocked to find out it wasn’t:




After fees but not including two purchasers whose money he allegedly refunded, Heinrich made about $5,000 to $6,000 on the one-day spree. (It’s possible, and even likely, that he never was able to collect on that, as Apple may have refunded everyone’s purchase. But that’s gone unreported.)

Bonus fact: The high-end-for-high-end-sake app market still exists. For iPhone, there’s VIP Black, a virtual concierge which costs $999.99 and apparently requires you to be a millionaire to use (they vet customers). And for Android, someone copied the I Am Rich app — but offered it for 80% off.

From the ArchivesYou’ve Agreed to … Win?: The bonus fact talks about a hidden little item from Apple’s terms of service.

RelatedA list of some of the most expensive things on Amazon, which isn’t up to date, as it doesn’t include thisthis, or (???) this.