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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001


Wolfram Alpha, the online computational knowledge engine that launched in May, now has an app available in the App Store. According to its App Store description, the app "plugs directly into Wolfram|Alpha's supercomputing cloud to deliver the unrivaled power of the Wolfram|Alpha knowledge engine to the mobile environment."

While the app still requires an internet connection to work, it includes a special keyboard to make the entry of special characters for mathematical and other functions easy. An early review by CNET describes that the app makes all output, which are provided as GIF images even when the service is accessed through Safari, show well on the iPhone's screen and that queries can be bookmarked and published via Twitter.


The app's price is what garners quite a bit of attention - it costs $49.99 [App Store] while the Wolfram Alpha site is free to use when accessed through a web browser, including Safari on the iPhone, and is most likely targeted at power users who need frequent access to the service for complex computations.

Article Link: Wolfram Alpha App Debuts with $49.99 Price Tag


macrumors member
Jan 11, 2006
Hopefully this can stem the tide of apps that sell for far below that they're worth... as an app developer, this is great to see :)


macrumors G5
Jan 9, 2008
Sunny, Southern California
We are spoiled. 20 years ago, we would have easily paid that for software that did what it did.

I agree..... Great site though!!! Leo Laport interviewed him on TWIT and to say the least, he has put a lot of time and effort into the website. Something like 5 years in the making and over 1-5 (can't remember which) million lines of mathematical lines of code.. or something along those lines..


macrumors 6502
Jan 16, 2006
$50 for an app that does nothing but give you access to a free webpage?
(And one that works just fine on the iPhone?)


Someone in marketing wrote 50 and meant cents not dollars....

Edit: I checked. Using Wolfram Alpha WEBPAGE on my iPhone to integrate x^2 while standing in line at Subway - works just fine. No app required. - Just the darn network connection.


macrumors member
Jun 23, 2006
It does seem a little absurd, but it is also absurd that if the website required a payment, less people would complain. I suppose we're complaining about the perversity, not the price.


macrumors 6502
Feb 15, 2005
WTF? It's free to access using Safari but costs 50.00 to use their app (which seems to be a glorified access to the same site with some .css/html mods to make it more accessible for iPhone)?

Who's the village idiot there in charge of marketing?


macrumors 6502
Feb 15, 2005
Seems they got it backwards. I'd charge for the site and offer a mobile version of it free (or a nominal charge) to those paying members of my site.


macrumors regular
Nov 8, 2007
Kyoto, Japan
test computational power

here's a sample equation to test:

free service * marketing retard = (interested people + accidental purchases) ≠ ( bling bling | street cred ) ∴ ωA * [suck-ass]²


macrumors 68030
Jun 24, 2004
I have bought it and am impressed so far!

Web version is fine for the odd use, but I expect to use it a lot, and access via a dedicated app is far nicer than through a web browser. In particular I like the extended keyboard, which means I don't have to keep moving screens to type in a mix of symbols, numbers and text.


macrumors 603
Oct 28, 2007
Number #53 of the Top Grossing as of this posting.

This App is likely going to sell a lot in its first week of offering -- mainly to hardcore users or people with too much money. I can't blame the developer starting very high, for this very reason. He could have offered it at $100 and it still would sell a lot in the first few days. There are people out there who will just have to have this app, at any cost. But, then, it's likely going to fall off the charts after a week. It just doesn't make sense to sell an app for $50 when you can get the same content for free on Safari. The price will undoubtedly drop at this point.

Even at $20, it would be steep, but I would pay for it.


macrumors regular
Nov 25, 2003
Long Island, New York
the price is non-sense

I am not sure if all the computing is done in iPhone or if the application is only an UI that still requires back-end computation on the server. Either way, it doesn't make sense.


macrumors regular
Jul 10, 2009
You're not going to get many people buying that just because the same tool is available on the internet for free. Yeah it's a little easier to use, but not 49.99 easier. I like Wolfram, I use it a little less than regularly for different things. It's great. Just don't see anyone buying this. Anyone who uses it enough to buy an app like that is probably going to be using it on their desktop/laptop more.


macrumors member
Jun 6, 2008
Pitty it's so much; it is quite a fun toy.

I agree that it is basically a toy. I played around on the site for a good hour when it came out and thought it was cool but haven't touched it since. While it has a ton of interesting information, I have a hard time believing there's many people that find it useful and practical enough to justify the price.

Feel free to prove me wrong though App Store.


macrumors 6502
Jan 16, 2006
I am not sure if all the computing is done in iPhone or if the application is only an UI that still requires back-end computation on the server. Either way, it doesn't make sense.

It sends it to the website and then sends you the answer.
I see a bookmarking button. Safari has a bookmarking button, too...
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