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Apple is Delaying Developers; Does a Bigger Problem Exist?

Apple is reportedly keeping third-party iPhone developers on a months-long backlog, in what could be the latest in a series of infrastructure limitations at the Cupertino, Calif.-based company.

According to AppleInsider, "Apple's ability to process iPhone developer contracts is quickly turning into a minor crisis as what was once a smooth process is rapidly turning into a months-long backlog that threatens to keep new developers out of the App Store."

Apple's iPhone App Store has been among the biggest business success stories around the world, during a time of tumult in the economy that is hitting all sectors, including technology, hard. However, any Apple delays that prevent the line from moving in the developer community could stunt that momentum.

The issues are not surprising, and are part of a continued line of potential warning signs.

Delays, quality issues and service problems have been plaguing Apple for the better part of two years. Even before the iPhone's launch, Apple was forced to delay another product -- the Leopard version of Mac OS X -- because it admittedly lacked the development infrastructure to simultaneously work on that and finish getting the iPhone to market.

Last year, on the day it launched both iPhone 3G and its MobileMe service, Apple's infrastructure was so swamped that tens of thousands of customers were forced to wait through brutal phone activation delays via its iTunes store. MobileMe was so riddled with problems when it first launched that Apple decided to give customers an extra month on their subscriptions in an effort to placate the many who were angry or disappointed.

AppleInsider reports that developers seeking Apple approval for even free applications to post to the App Store are waiting a couple of months. But even getting started as an iPhone Developer can be an issue. Late last year, it took Apple seven weeks to approve my application for its iPhone developer program just so I could access its iPhone DevCenter.

Apple has repeatedly been able to counter complaints around these and similar issues because of the popularity of its products and the strong success of its iPhone platform. But if Apple's current backlog with developers is as significant as it appears, it may turn into a problem that outgrows its popularity.

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