Android gets a $200 application that does nothing

Google Android logoBorrowing the idea from a similarly named iPhone application -- one Apple banned from the App Store -- an Android developer has created a $200 application dubbed I am Rich. It displays a blue diamond on-screen which, well... proves that you're rich. Unlike the iPhone application, this one is here to stay because Google doesn't exercises control over applications offered on its store, choosing instead to let the market sort out what is successful and what is not. Industry watchers also note that the I am Rich program highlights key differences between Google's Android Market and Apple's App Store. One question remains: Will the program match the nearly $6,000 its iPhone counterpart earned before Apple gave it the boot?

The arrival of paid programs in Google's Android Market has created the opportunity for developers to finally make some money by charging for their Android applications. And at least one developer bets he's found the killer formula, one that will earn him thousands on a minimum time spent programming the application that is little more than flashy lights. More precisely, the aptly named I am Richer application merely displays a blue diamond on the screen that "proves your wealth to others." It can be yours for just $200.

According to Jay Freeman's website (which tracks all the applications available on the Android Market), at the time of this writing the I am Richer application had been ranked the most expensive application for the Android platform. Most paid offerings on the Android Market typically sell for up to $2, while minor portion of them goes for $10 or more. The developer's nearly identical I am Richer iPhone application was making headlines months ago.

Named I am Rich, the iPhone application showed red gem on the screen in exchange for $1000. It took Apple a while to realize what was going on. The company eventually moved in for the kill, banning the application while citing "user complaints," but it still managed to earn its creator cool $5,600 before being booted out of the store. Back then, the developer's reasoning was the same: The application was meant to be a status symbol, one which shows off your wealth to others. When you think of that allure, it really shouldn't be a surprise that among users who flaunt their iPhone (which would cost them $2000+ over a period of two years), at least some of them would be willing to simply sink another $1000 in a screensaver -- especially if it's daddy's money.

Two opposing philosophies collide

Since that scandal, no similar application appeared in the App Store. The fact that I am Rich is banned from the App Store while at the same time I am Richer happily exists in the Android Market, illustrates the key differences between the two platforms. While owners who run their respective application stores both take 30 percent cut of application revenue, leaving developers with a solid 70 percent, Google is emphasizing a total openness that enables anyone who registers for the Android developer program to upload an application to Android's application store without having to first obtain Google's stamp of approval.

Apple: Farts are OK, Boobs are not

App Store for the iPhone and iPod touch, on the other hand, is being monitored by Apple. Each application comes under scrutiny of Apple's quality assurance teams who can reject applications based on several merits. For instance, Apple recently banned a South Park application from reaching iPhone users, citing "potentially offensive content". At the same time, Apple approved a farting application while rejecting those that display CGI boobs on the screen. Both approaches have advantages and pitfalls. Google's openness potentially stimulates innovation, but it also opens the doors to the most crappy and even fraudulent programs as well. Apple's logic restricts what's possible on the platform, but also keeps harmful stuff out of users' iPhones.

Some kind of regulation is needed after all

While users don't care as much as they can download quality programs to enhance their cellphones, Android developers hail Google's total openness and lack of approval process in the Android Market. However, many analysts are warning that some kind of control is necessary because market forces alone could not sort out misbehaving applications from the good ones.

"It is likely that at least some portion of the applications will be less than robust," Jack Gold of J. Gold Associates told TG Daily in an email interview. "How will they get sorted out in the application store? Bad applications could easily take down a phone, which could be deadly in such a personal form factor." In this respect, the I am Richer application is the best example available to date. Without some kind of control on Google's part, programs like I am Richer that walk the fine line between fraud and what's deemed as legal will be allowed into the store to potentially take advantage of naive users who might not be quite so tech-savvy.

Source: TG Daily

Tags: Android, Apple

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