Developers hoping to build native iPhone apps have been put on hold when attempting to enroll in Apple’s iPhone Developer Program—at least temporarily.
The program gives access to additional resources on Apple’s Web site and code-level support from Apple engineers. It also provides code testing tools. And, it will give developers the ability to distribute their offerings through the forthcoming App Store when that software distribution venue arrives this summer.
But last week, some software makers who applied to be part of the Developer Program received an e-mail from Apple that said their membership had been turned down for the time being.
“As this time, the iPhone Developer Program is available to a limited number of developers and we plan to expand during the beta period,” the e-mail sent to these developers said. “We will contact you again regarding your enrollment status at the appropriate time.”
Some developers contacted by Macworld said that they’ve received the wait-list notification, but that they’re proceeding on building iPhone apps using the software development kit (SDK) released by Apple two weeks ago. In less than a week, the SDK had been downloaded more than 100,000 times, suggesting that developers are clamoring for the chance to build native iPhone apps.
“When I first received the notice, I thought of it as a rejection, but over the past few days I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s more of a courtesy note,” said Daniel Jalkut, owner of Red Sweater Software, developer of the MarsEdit blog publishing software. Jalkut said that he applied for the program the same day the announcement was made.
Developers shouldn’t be surprised that there’s a waiting list to get into the Developer Program, according to Michael Gartenberg, vice president and research director at JupiterResearch. “Apple said from day one that while the program was going to be open to everyone eventually, during the beta period they were going to limit enrollment,” Gartenberg said. “And anyone can download the SDK for free.”
Still, some developers worry that being unable to join the iPhone Developer Program now could put them at a disadvantage down the road. One who asked not to be identified told Macworld that while having the SDK is a start, he’s hamstrung by not having access to a way of testing on an actual iPhone or iPod touch.
“This is especially true for anyone wanting to create a game or use any of the hardware features, therefore there is an entire category of applications that cannot be built unless we’re accepted into the iPhone Dev program,” he said.
Apple launched the iPhone Developer Program less than two weeks ago when Apple CEO Steve Jobs and other executives revealed the iPhone SDK at a March 6 press briefing. The SDK has been released to help third-party software developers get a leg up on creating applications for the iPhone which will be available through an App Store that Apple will launch in June when it’s introduced as part of the iPhone 2.0 software update.
The iPhone Developer Program costs $99 for the “Standard” program, which is aimed at freeware and commercial application developers. A $299 Enterprise program is available for creating proprietary, in- house applications.
“June is the starting line for every one of us and that should be plenty of time to get all the applications processed,” said Mike Glass, a developer at Marware. “I think we’ll all be on equal ground when the App Store is ready and we’ll all be able to hit the ground running.”
Gartenberg agreed. “June is still a pretty long way away, there are ways for Apple to ramp this up, even post-launch,” he said.
While Apple is asking applicants to the iPhone Developer Program to wait a bit, developers are still welcome to get started on programming their iPhone applications: the iPhone SDK itself is available as a free download for registered developers.
Editor's note: Due to a reporting error, it was originally stated that developers did not have access to the simulator through the SDK. They do. That has been corrected.