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11 Most Expensive (But Useless) iPhone Apps
written by Sam Greenspan

The Apple App Store allows developers to sell their apps for up to $999.99. Very few hit that cap, but about 30 or so are ambitious enough to shoot the moon. Of those, all but one seem to generate virtually no sales (the exception is a $999.99 professional piano tuning app called CyberTuner that seems to move a significant number of units).

I went on a hunt for the apps that hit the Venn diagram intersection of "expensive" and "useless." (Or, at least, useful to such a narrow subset of people that it seems no one has purchased the app.)

Here are my picks for the 11iPhone apps that are simultaneously expensive and impractical.
  1. CB Deals (link)
    Cost: $999.99
    Purpose: Provides discounts and deals with local businesses in Crested Butte, Colorado

    In their sample screenshots, the deal that they show is a free appetizer with a party of six or more at Donita's Cantina restaurant. According to the Donita's Cantina website, the most expensive appetizer is a $13.50 plate of nachos with meat on top. Assuming that's the average deal on CB Deals, you'd need to use the app for 75 plates of free nachos before you're in the black. (And that's me being fairly generous with regards to the average deal, as some of the other spotlighted offers include half price off one beer at a bar and a free drink with the purchase of two burritos at a different Mexican restaurant.)

  2. The Money Shot (link)
    Cost: $999.99
    Purpose: Take a selfie and put a special logo on it to show you're rich

    This is from the small genre of "Hey, I'm rich" apps; small because Apple more or less disallows apps like this from entering its gated community. Apple can handle its own haughtiness, thank you very much. This one slipped through the cracks and only has one review -- a one-star rating with the comment, "This app that I have just purchased on accident just stole 1000 dollars from me."

  3. Chaingram (link)
    Cost: Free... but $999.99 in-app purchase for "unlimited hints"
    Purpose: Anagram word game with crossword puzzle clues

    Seems like an ok word game, albeit pretty much indistinguishable from the myriad other word games. However -- if you feel the need to pay a thousand bucks for unlimited hints in a basic word puzzle game, perhaps you'd be more comfortable playing something else. ANYTHING else.

  4. Agro (link)
    Cost: $999.99
    Purpose: "Imagine a world where an agronomist can visit a client, complete an inspection report, hold the sale of products then move to the next client knowing that all paperwork is done and sent by the time they drive out the gate."

    Clearly no one wanted to imagine that world, since it has zero ratings or reviews.

  5. DX500RALLY.Classic (link)
    Cost: $999.99
    Purpose: Rally car speed and race tracking?

    I'm not really sure what it does -- I'm not familiar enough with the world of rally car racing to decipher the rough Japanese-to-English description -- but I am sure that for my $999.99, I'd like the app to be more reliable. In the notes, the developers say it "does not ... guarantee for results of the competition" and "It may run out of memory when you load a big competition data." Handle my big load or get out of here, buddy.

  6. QSFFStats (link)
    Cost: $999.99
    Purpose: Keep track of flag football stats.

    Having played in a few adult sports leagues that were casual in theory but weirdly competitive in practice, I wouldn't be shocked if there's some hardcore flag football league commissioner out there who thinks this app is totally worth it.

  7. iEar APP (link)
    Cost: $999.99
    Purpose: A "listening workout" to help improve memory, concentration and language.

    C'mon man, you don't need this, just keep your brain sharp the way I do: A mix of essential fatty acids, lots of Tetris and shouting out answers while watching Jeopardy to ruin the viewing experience of everyone else in the room.

  8. Journal of the American Ceramic Society (link)
    Cost: Free... but a 12-month subscription requires an in-app purchase of $999.99.
    Purpose: Journal about ceramics.

    I'll admit that when I pulled this one, I thought it was, like, a trade journal for art teachers to talk about the latest developments in kilns and glazes and such. It's actually about the use of ceramics in the sciences, which makes it seem slightly more valid -- but trying to write off your thousand-dollar ceramics journal subscription still seems like you're begging for an IRS investigation.

  9. MIDI Designer Lite (link)
    Cost: $999.99
    Purpose: Create MIDI sequenced music.

    Meanwhile, the Pro version is $19.99. And it's offered as an in-app purchase in this $999.99 Lite version. This is either a pricing error, or a strategy to make the Pro version seem reasonably priced.

  10. CrunchMyCap (link)
    Cost: $999.99
    Purpose: Find out a fact you didn't know about your company or your competitors, based on CrunchBase data.

    As if the $999.99 price isn't exploitative enough, there's an in-app purchase of $7.99 for credits to actually use it. That's an awful lot of nickel-and-diming people who are just looking for this app to coalesce some public domain data into a graph.

  11. A Report On an Encounter With the Aerial Serpents (link)
    Cost: $949.99
    Purpose: A two-and-a-half page short story about a guy's real-life encounter with aerial serpents.

    You can buy this through the iBooks app, if you'd like a self-published fact-yet-fiction story that's less than a few thousand words long. I'm speculating that the absurd price is more interesting than the content itself, but when aerial serpents attack us and only the people who paid $949.99 for the book know how to handle them, boy will my face be red. (With embarrassment AND blood.)

This post was originally published on Monday, April 20, 2015 at 11:00:00 AM under the category Web & Tech.

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