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Apple drives iPhone app developers to the brink

Could pay, will pay. Just not right now

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A backlog in Apple's payment processing system has left some iPhone developers still waiting for February's payments, leaving some at risk of bankruptcy and considering legal action against the lads in Cupertino.

Desperate developers have been told to stop e-mailing the iTunes finance system and to wait patiently for their money - in some cases tens of thousands of dollars - while Apple sorts things out.

The huge success of Apple's iTunes store has caught the company by surprise, but having sold the service to small-scale developers it's harsh to leave them begging and desperate. Such people don't have the reserves - or lines of credit - to last while Apple sorts out its paper work:

"Over $10,000 here. Family, kids, mortgage etc. Mails unanswered etc. In dispair. No where to go. They don't reply to emails and there is no number. Can't do anything physically because I'm in the European Union."

According to postings on the iPhone developer community Apple has been blaming bank errors and processing problems for the delays. Complainants are being told that payments have been made, that bank errors have caused rejections and, eventually, to stop making such a fuss as they're really busy and trying their best:

"Please stop emailing us. Your 22 emails in the past two days is bordering harassment. We receive a thousand emails a day, and will respond as soon as we can," it told one hard-up dev.

The developer concerned reckons he posted that story onto Apple's support forum too, from where he claims the thread was deleted.

Dealing with thousands of developers (and their banks) all over the world is a significant undertaking, and one for which Apple seems ill-prepared, even when pocketing almost a third of the money in addition to an annual fee. The situation, as ever, is exacerbated by Apple's refusal to comment or apologise, which seems to be a blanket position on everything, except shaken babies. ®

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