Let’s Have Some Perspective, People

So this guy made an iPhone app called “I Am Rich,” which does nothing but show an image of a red gemstone– presumably a ruby. He priced it at $999.99 and managed to get it added to the iPhone App Store.

The "I Am Rich" application icon
The "I Am Rich" application icon

When I first heard about this, I thought “hmmm, I guess some people with too much money might want that, as a sort of joke-but-not-really-’cause-look-i’m-so-rich-i-spent-a-grand-on-a-joke.” Or maybe even because they wanted it for its face-value function. Y’know, kind of like any other useless luxury item. People go for that shit. “Look at my gold fingernail clipper with the inset diamond hinge.”

It never occurred to me to get angry at the guy who made the app. I’m still bewildered by the furor.

It’s gotten enough attention that the New York Times has written a story about the whole deal. According to the NYT, the guy who made the app’s been getting hate mail– “Mr. Heinrich was bombarded with e-mail and phone messages, “many of them insulting,” he said.”

Come on now. Really? Yelling at a dude because you “fell” for his joke/art? It did exactly what it said it would do, and it cost exactly as much as it told you it would. It’s the iPhone equivalent of touching a land mine to see if it will go off. It’s pretty and cute, and I know it’s going to kill me, but there must be some way I can try it out and get back to cover if what I know is true actually turns out to really be true.

a modern land mine-- I assume the dude isnt going to poke it with that wand...
A modern land mine. I assume the dude isn't going to poke it with that wand...

I use the land mine analogy, which essentially compares stupidly wasting money you didn’t deserve to have in the first place with being rent limb from limb by buried explosives because that’s how important this subject is.

Judging by the amount of press, anyway.

And all this hoopla for 8 people– “I Am Rich” was purchased a grand total of 8 times. So the hooplateers are offended just on principle that anyone would dare create such an application and sell it on the holy App Store. That lofty perch must be reserved for fifteen different applications that all emulate a flashlight. Some of which actually would have you pay them money, more money than it costs to buy a real flashlight, for the privilege of using an application to set your backlight to its highest setting and turn the screen white.

Of course, Apple doesn’t give you a way to try out an iPhone app. Once you’ve bought the app, you’re kind of screwed if it’s terrible. Don’t go purchasing any of those $40 industry-specific applications unless you know they’re going to suit your need. So there is some room for criticism of high-priced applications on that basis.

Nintendo does the same thing. You can’t try out the games on the Wii shop, you just have to spend the ten bucks for SPOGS Racing and then spend the next hour cursing at Nintendo for loose quality control. SPOGS Racing is really horrible.

But anyway, I’m having a  hard time dealing with the fact that

  • a) people give a crap about “I Am Rich” and that
  • b) the crap they give is flung at the developer instead of idiots who clicked the app to install it and then have the nerve to claim they’ve been scammed, and that
  • c) people are really as stupid as I always knew they were.

Maybe my real problem is that this time I can’t just shrug and be all cynical, because this time people are being stupid in a completely different way than I expected. Like when you kick that landmine and it springs up and decapitates the guy next to you, and you get off with only an amputation or two.

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