A painting of me

iPhones and Cheapskates

   30 June 2009, early afternoon

In Canada an iPhone will cost you between $200-$300 on a 3 year contract. Those 3 year contracts will cost you upwards of $80 a month. Maybe you can scam something a little bit less, but at the end of the day, owning an iPhone is fucking expensive. You know what isn’t expensive on the iPhone? Applications. Want to get things done? The bestest application in the world costs $10. One of the best twitter clients costs you $3. The most awesome game on the planet costs you $1. I know what you’re thinking: god damn that’s amazing. Strangely, this doesn’t seem to be what most iPhone owners think.

Mental Note: A good way to filter out cheapskate customers you don’t want is to price your iPhone application at $4.

This message is sitting in my copy of Birdhouse. When Birdhouse came out people couldn’t shut up about how expensive it was. Release any application that costs more then $1 and you’ll get people moaning on twitter about its cost. When the AppStore let you write reviews for applications you didn’t own, you could always count on at least one review bitching about the price of the application. If that new Twitter client that costs $5 is going to break the bank, maybe you need to rethink owning an absolutely ridiculous cell phone.

There are lots of reasons not to spend $5 on a twitter client. It being too expensive really shouldn’t be one of them.



  1. Ram,

    I realize I’m the exception and not the rule you’re discussing here, but I thing it’s worth nothing that there are a lot of reasons why $5 is a lot to pay for an app. I’ll use said Twitter client as an example.

    1. You can use twitter for free. The website, the mobile website, and txt msg are ways to use twitter at no cost. And unless they’ve killed text message commands there’s very little functionality lost.

    2. Expensive is relative, but not dependent. Sure 5 dollars is small compared to the thousand you’ll spend on your iPhone’s first year. But it doesn’t mean I’m obligated to keep spending thousands (or fives) on frivolousness. Aren’t I allowed to say, “Enough is enough”?

    3. Five dollars is a lot of money. Here in DC, it’s two day’s commute to work and back. I remember when I was 16 it was a half-tank of gas in my beater car. It could be a days’ wages somewhere. That these situations are not relative to me does not mean that this money is any less valuable. And I hope I never forget that.

    Yeah I’m a cheapskate. I got my phone for free, service paid for free, and the moment anyone asks me to pay for anything I’ll happily go back to my other phone. Expensive essentially means that the return on steep investment is low enough to be prohibitive. I think that’s a great reason why not to buy a twitter client.

  2. You can use Twitter for free, yes. I don’t think that implies every twitter iPhone application should be free. If you are buying a $5 application it’s because it does things above and beyond the web site. (Makes it easy to track conversations, supports multiple accounts, makes hashtags clickable, etc.) So you have to decide if that’s worth $5 or not.

    More so, i’m not arguing anyone needs to spend $5 on a twitter client. No one is forcing anyone to buy anything. You don’t have to spend $5 on frivilousness if you don’t want to.

    Not buying a Twitter application because you think it isn’t worth $5 isn’t lame. Moaning that that application should be free or a $1 is lame.

  3. Also, my guess is that (most) people who think $5 is too much for a twitter application don’t think it’s too much for a Big Mac combo or a fancy drink at Starbucks. (Mind you, a Big Mac is fucking awesome.) I’m guessing most of the people who complain about this stuff on twitter aren’t thinking, “$5 is not far from minimum wage.” They are just being cheapasses.

  4. agreed.

  5. But if you can live with out the mobile internet, I think you can just get the phone without necessarily having to pay for the data plan. So then it’s like a really expensive regular cellphone, but it’s still really sweet.

    (I don’t have one though, I guess I’m too cheap/poor – I have a POS LG I long to burn.)

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