Confusion Regarding iPhone Developer Beta Program

Earlier today developers who’ve applied for entry in the iPhone SDK beta program were sent the following message from Apple:

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

No one seems to know whether this is a “we got your application” form letter, or a “you’ve been rejected, at least for now” form letter. Either way, the message is poorly phrased. MarsEdit developer Daniel Jalkut, among many others, initially interpreted it as a rejection, but upon further contemplation, is no longer sure.

I have firsthand confirmation that some of the biggest names in indie Mac development — Raiders of the Lost Ark-style “top men” — received this exact same message. So, either it’s just a form letter sent to all developers who’ve applied to let them know Apple is still reviewing their applications, or else Apple is being extraordinarily selective about the first wave of developers in the beta program.

If any developers have heard otherwise — i.e. have gotten word from Apple that you’ve been accepted into the beta program, or even better, have already received the digital certificate that allows your application to be installed on an actual iPhone — I would love to hear from you. Confidentiality guaranteed.

Also, to put this issue in context:

  • Anyone who downloads the iPhone SDK can already write applications that run in the iPhone simulator on their Mac. What they can’t do until they’re accepted into the $99 developer program is install their apps on an iPhone.

    [Update: One reason this matters is that the simulator app is limited in important ways. It can’t do Open GL, for one thing, and doesn’t do Core Location, either. And for games that use the accelerometer for control, developers really need to test gameplay on actual iPhones (and/or iPod Touches).]

  • It seems clear that long-term, once the iPhone SDK is out of beta, the developer program will be relatively inclusive. The question is how exclusive the developer program will be during the beta period.