Apple's iPhone App Store is most popular for its free and cheap apps. But there are plenty of expensive apps in the App Store, too, and people do buy them.
The most expensive app in the App Store today is called iRa Pro: It's a dashboard to access and control live feeds of video surveillance cameras, and it costs $999.99.
The company that makes it—Lextech Labs, outside of Chicago—won't say how many copies it has sold. But Lextech president and CEO Alex Bratton says it's more than the five people who have reviewed the latest edition on iTunes. He's "pretty happy with the number".
Why charge so much? Because for the people who are buying the app, it's actually a relatively small cost.
Bratton says his target customers are monitoring security systems for corporations, government organisations, universities, etc., that can run more than half a million dollars. For them, a $999.99 app is just part of the cost of doing business. Especially when the alternative—getting a custom piece of hardware developed, instead of using off-the-shelf iPhones and iPod touches—costs thousands per gadget.
iRa Pro wasn't always the most expensive iPhone app. About a year ago, a German developer had an app briefly approved by Apple called "I Am Rich." For $US999.99, it did absolutely nothing, and was controversial. After a day or so, Apple pulled it from the App Store—but not before the developer reportedly sold eight copies.
That developer, Armin Heinrich, currently has 12 apps in the App Store, including the similarly utility-free—but just $1.19—"iShaver."
Today, there are no apps over $1000, but plenty that cost more than $100, ranging from medical references to audio tools.
10. XA1—$229.99: XA1 is an audio analysis app that gives "realtime feedback of the audio spectrum" when mixing or doing other audio related work. [iTunes Link]
9. Interpath—$229.99: Provides remote access to pathology images for medical professionals, used for cancer diagnosis or other disease treatments. Requires an image server like Aperio. [iTunes Link]
8. Nursing Constellation Plus—$229.99: Nursing and medical reference app. Includes access to drug dosing calculation tools, medical dictionary, calculator, etc. [iTunes Link]
7. ROSIE Home Automation—$249.99: ROSIE home automation system users can control their AV systems, lighting, security, and other services. Requires a ROSIE system. [iTunes Link]
6. iDcrm—$249.99: The "first full" Microsoft Dynamics CRM app for the iPhone. [iTunes Link]
5. Lexi-Dental Complete—$349.99: Tied for the most expensive in Lexi's suite of medical reference apps. In essence, everything a dentist could possibly need in an iPhone app except a credit card swiper. Over 160 radiographs and more than 1000 photos. [iTunes Link]
4. Mobile Cam Viewer—$399.99: Watch and control several flavours of live surveillance cameras. [iTunes Link]
3. PDR Quote—$399.99: Business software for auto repair: Create quotes and invoices, includes huge database of cars, forms you can personalise, etc. [iTunes Link]
2. MATG—SAP BusinessOne—$499.99: Hooks into SAP's BusinessOne financial management software. Designed for sales reps or marketing/finance execs. Also available for Microsoft Dynamics GP. [iTunes Link]
1. iRa Pro—$999.99: iRa Pro is used to view and manage super-expensive enterprise surveillance camera installations. Clients could include corporations, schools, government, etc. [iTunes Link]