There really aren’t too many expensive iPhone apps available on the AppStore. All the apps on my iPhone, for example, range from free to $9.99 – most of them hovering around the $0.99 and $1.99 price points. Wolfram Alpha, on the other hand, offers iPhone users a free-form question answering service for the princely sum of $50. For most people, that price was hardly worth having an iPhone app that duplicates the functionality of the Wolfram Alpha website’s iPhone optimized interface. The key word here is “was,” because Wolfram Alpha has just pulled the plug on their iPhone optimized website. Wolfram visitors on iPhones are now being shown the regular version of the Wolfram Alpha website, with a pop-up ad that suggests downloading the $50 iPhone app.
It makes sense, really. Rather than argue that $50 is a good price for their iPhone app, Wolfram Alpha rolled out an iPhone-optimized website to get people used to using the service – addicted to it, in a sense. Then, once enough people have tasted the sweet nectar of Wolfram Alpha’s question answering service, they shut down the mobile website and funnel users to the AppStore to buy the iPhone app. It should be interesting to see how this strategy plays out.
To be clear, iPhone users can still visit the Wolfram Alpha website on their iPhone and use the service after closing the pop-up ad. But, for a mobile-optimized experience, you’ll have to download the app (AppStore link).
So, Wolfram Alpha users, what will you do? Will you continue to use Wolfram Alpha services through the regular website, or will you go for broke (hopefully not for reals) and buy the Wolfram Alpha iPhone app?
Wolfram Alpha for iPhone (AppStore link)