Here’s what I came across while browsing the finance section of the App Store on my new iPhone:
iTip, from palaware
iTip, from Uncouth Software
BigTipper, from PureBlend Software
TipCalc, from BAMsoft
Tiptap, from Made with Bananas
Tipulator, from tap tap tap
Tip Calc, from Charles Ying
Tip, from Carlos Perez
CheckPlease, from Catamount Software
Tips, from Kudit.com
mTip, from Pascal Mermoz
TipBuddy, from Justin Jeffress
Gratuity, from TapeShow
QuickTip, from Spare Change Software
Tippety Split, from Manta Ray Software
Out of 59 apps in the finance section, at least 15 of them help you calculate a restaurant tip. Some of them also help split a bill between diners and so on; some are free, others cost a dollar. I only glanced at a few of the apps but I can’t imagine there’s a huge difference among them. Which leads me to ask:
1. Is there such a weak demand for real estate in the iPhone App Store that it can afford to give 25 percent of its space to nearly duplicate products?
2. Is it really so hard — even while including certain variables — to calculate a tip?
3. I am all in favor of financial literacy, but isn’t the mastery of restaurant tipping too narrow a skill to demand such attention?
4. I understand that Apple has run into a bit of a buzzsaw with its $1,000 “I Am Rich” app, along with news of an iPhone kill switch, but neither of those cases involved junking up the new sleek worldvibe the iPhone has created — whereas this tip-calc overkill kind of does, no?
Now if someone wrote an app for tipping the flight attendant, I might consider it.
[ADDENDUM: To you long-tail commenters below, who write that "As a virtual store, Apple’s shelf space is essentially infinite," and "There is no physical 'space' limit in the App Store," let me respectfully disagree, at least a bit. Even when real estate is not physical, there are limitations. For instance, let's say I'm willing to browse the first 10 or 20 apps in the finance section -- and see that a bunch of them are tip calculators. Doesn't that make me a lot less likely to wade through the next 30 or 40 apps that might not be tip calculators? Here's a better argument in favor of the reality of virtual real estate: When a post on this blog is linked to from The Times's home page, traffic on that post spikes perhaps five- or ten-fold. But there's only room for so many home-page links -- which means that the vast majority of articles and blog posts on NYTimes.com never appear there, and therefore get read far, far less widely than those that do. Also, ask publishers how hard they work -- and how much money they are willing to pay -- to be featured on an Amazon.com front page of some sort. The tail may be long but fat beats skinny any day of the week.]