Crunch time for Apple's App Store: mounting frustration for iPhone developers

At least some developers are facing longer and longer wait times while trying to get their iPhone applications approved for Apple's App Store. For others, their existing contracts with Apple are nearing their end, and some people are wondering if Apple has a workable system in place to review and renew them. AppleInsider reports that what initially was an aproval process that took a couple of days can now take months, even for free software. Messages from developers trying to discover the status and time frame for approving their apps are "either given a stock response apologizing for the wait or else receive no answer at all," according to the story, by Aidan Malley. Contract renewals are coming due in the next month or so for the initial batch of iPhone applications. Ars Technica's Erica Sadun called the Apple Development Connection about a renewal. Here's what she found: "When attempting to renew an iPhone developer membership, we were told by the representative that Apple had not even implemented a process to do so yet. 'There is no process in place yet to renew it just now,' the rep told us. 'As soon as a process is in place, you'll be notified via e-mail or the website. It's a new program. This program was not yet in place last year, and Apple needs time.'" These problems are due in part to the phenomenal success of the App Store, the popularity of which is creating a new set of challenges for Apple and, of course, iPhone developers and users. A recent analysis of iPhone applications found that most iPhone applications even when downloaded are hardly used. The study found that the sheer number of applications on App Store is complicating discovery by iPhone users, and complicating a range of business decisions by developers. The longer it takes for Apple to sort out a sustainable technology platform and business model for App Stor, the more opportunity it gives to aggressive rivals. One such is RIM, which just announced details of its own application marketplace for BlackBerry users. Palm plans a similar online clearinghouse from for its anticipated Palm Pre smartphone, expected to be released via Sprint in the next month or so.

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