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Heartless Apple form letter 'confuses' Jesus Phone disciples

Developer Dear John? Or just bad manners?

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Apple has just sent a form letter to an army of would-be iPhone developers - and no one knows what it means.

Some, like the folks at The Unofficial Apple Weblog, think it's a mass rejection letter telling all but a handful of select developers they're banned from Apple's fledgling iPhone Developer program. But others argue that it could be a we'll-get-back-to-you letter that's easily mistaken for a rejection letter.

In the wake of Apple's SDK announcement early last week, countless developers immediately applied for the program, and today, Apple sent its form letter to at least some of these eager souls. It looks like this:

Dear Registered iPhone Developer,

Thank you for expressing interest in the iPhone Developer Program. We have received your enrollment request. As this time, the iPhone Developer Program is available to a limited number of developers and we plan to expand during the beta period. We will contact you again regarding your enrollment status at the appropriate time.

Thank you for applying.

Best regards,

iPhone Developer Program

Er, this doesn't look like a rejection to us. Yes, it's less than forthcoming. But that's Apple for you.

In any event, many developers are mighty peeved that Steve Jobs has left them trapped in Jesus Phone development limbo. And they wonder just how many third-party apps will actually go on sale when Apple officially opens the iPhone App Store in June.

"There's a lot of uncertainty over whether this is really a significant rejection of most developers or a poorly worded acknowledgment that they're still sifting through all the applications," Daniel Jalkut, the longtime Mac developer behind Red Sweater Software, told The Reg. "It seems to allude to the fact that some people have been accepted."

Yes, Apple has released the Jesus Phone SDK to world+dog. But the App Store is the only (official) route to actually getting your third-party application onto Steve Jobs' handheld status symbol. And the only way to join the App Store is to join the iPhone Developer Program.

Naturally, developers want a firm answer on whether they're in or out. Unless they're accepted into the program, they can't even test their apps on an iPhone (officially).

Jalkut told us that he's talked to dozens of would-be iPhone developers and all received the same letter. Not one has officially been accepted into the program. This sort of news has led some to believe that Apple's program has excluded almost everyone on the planet.

"It's fair to say that there are some developers out there who have been accepted - Apple says as much," Jalku explained, referring to games makers EA Sports and Sega, who demoed their iPhone apps at Apple's press event. "And my first reaction was to think there has been some kind of first pass over the applicant pool, and I haven't made it.

"The big question is whether anyone has been accepted since Apple unveiled the SDK on Thursday."

Meanwhile, we would argue that if everyone received the same letter, there's a good chance it was merely acknowledging the receipt of their applications. Aren't people getting a tad too worked up?

"Some developers are probably overreacting to the tone of the message, but we'll have to wait and see," said Jalkut. "Everyone is amped up about the iPhone and anxious to get going. When there's any communication from Apple, we're liable to over-interpret it." ®

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