Navigator

The iPhone App Store takes a bad turn

July 2, 2009: 8:10 AM ET

Picture 8I'd heard about this new iPhone app, but it wasn't until AT&T's (T) sales pitch landed in my inbox Thursday morning that its significance hit home.

It's called the AT&T Navigator -- a turn-by-turn GPS navigation system for your car that runs on an iPhone 3G or 3GS.  From the press release and early reviews it sounds like it's packed with features, from voice activation and spoken directions to the ability to search for the nearest Wi-Fi hotspot and the cheapest gas.

The problem with the application is how you pay for it. Downloading the Navigator is free. Owning it is expensive: $10 added to your monthly bill -- even if you delete the app -- until you contact AT&T and shut off the service.

Over the life of a two year AT&T contract, this one application could set you back $240, more than you paid for the iPhone itself.

Welcome to the world of subscription pricing, one of the more than 1,000 new application programming interfaces (APIs) added to the iPhone's software development kit (SDK) last March.

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