The sudden and unexplained removal of Armin Heinrich's $999.99 "I Am Rich" should act as a warning to other iPhone apps developers out there - Apple can make your apps vanish on a whim.
Apple apparently had some problems with I Am Rich. After initially approving it for distribution, the company has since removed it from the store. Heinrich, a German software developer, has yet to hear back from Apple concerning the removal. "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," Heinrich said in an e-mail with The Times today.
Now, let's be clear, I didn't really see any value or benefit to Heinrich's app (admittedly, I didn't buy a copy ...), and it was a tad overpriced, but let's be fair, apart from the fact that the price tag was indeed stratospheric, "useless" and "overpriced" are terms that can be used to describe many of the apps on offer at the Apple App Store. But as far as I can see, it wasn't malicious and clearly stated on the purchase page what the app did.
Apple so far has not commented on why the app was removed but a possible reason is that someone bought the app believing it to be a joke:
I saw this app with a few friends and we jokingly clicked "buy" thinking it was a joke, to see what would happen.
I'd hate to take this guy to a car dealership or a casino.
If I were involved in selling software through the Apple App Store, this kind of development would have me worried. It seems to be setting a precedent whereby any clown could come across your app, click buy (maybe thinking it was a joke ...), later feel dissatisfied, complains, and that results in your app vanishing from the store. All the time you invested in developing and testing the app is now wasted as you are now stuck with an app, but no outlet for it.
Don't get me wrong, it's right that Apple reserves the right to remove apps, but this process needs to be transparent and fair. Also, it has to be noted that yanking an app without even having the courtesy to inform the developer is pretty bad form.