I’d like to start my tales into iPhone development at the beginning. For all of you who think the hard part is the actual coding–Ha!
The first difficult part of the iPhone app store is getting your actual sign up approved. If you go to developer.apple.com you can start the process for signing up for your account. The one good thing about this is you can choose to go the “easy” route at first and only sign up for unpaid app (i.e. free apps) development. While this route is a bit easier, it still costs you some cash–$99 per year. Yes, you have to pay to develop apps that will make you no money from the store (of course, you can make money through other things other than purchases of the app).
One of the big pitfalls of this system is really the paid app sign up. This requires you to get a ton of financial info together and fax it off to Apple. (they want bank account and address info). Here’s where some major problems can crop up–You can’t easily change the data once they receive it. As part of your sign up you need to fill out some online forms with your company name and other info (tax, address, financial). If you make a mistake on some of these, you’re in trouble. There is no way to have this changed through the online interface. In fact, there’s no clear way to actually contact them over this.
We had an issue with our address. It looks like someone at Apple actually types in your info from the faxed forms you send over–and they did it wrong for us. What you end up with is a screen that shows you your info, but no clear location to contact Apple to correct it. I literally sent a customer contact email through every CSR interface on the Apple site and got no reply. About 2 months later I received an email from a CSR saying basically “Fax us a new copy of your company incorporation document” with the statement that they would then go in and make the necessary edits.
Look, 2 months is not a reasonable time frame for this type of thing. What if the issue had been with our financial info instead of something minor?
So, the main point of this is really think about what you will be entering into their sign up forms. As far as I can tell, you can’t make many changes later. (As a side note–there are reports that this is really a problem in other areas. It seems like it’s impossible to take over software from another account. For instance, if you were to buy another iPhone developer’s software business there isn’t a real way to combine accounts or move the apps without literally resubmitting them and losing any history or linkage.)
While Apple does a good job with their customer facing interface. Expect many hassles and surprising lapses with their business interfaces. This is just the beginning though, just wait until you here about the dev interfaces in the next posts.