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iPhone dev program acceptance rate: 16%

As Steve Jobs opened up the keynote on Monday, he threw out a few numbers which, frankly, went by me without really clicking until today. At 10:10, my live blog reads as such:

10:10. 25,000 applied to dev program. 4,000 admitted. 35% of the Fortune 500 has participated in the program. Working with Cisco for secure VPN. Push email, push contacts, push calendar, autodiscovery, global address lookup, remote wipe. iPhone 2.0 software is enterprise support, SDK, and new features

When you're liveblogging, these details tend to fly by -- without enough time to really process what you're typing. So it wasn't until this morning that it really hit me what this meant and it took a post by Rogue Amoeba's Paul Kafasis to make it sink in.

Read more about these numbers and my thoughts after the jump.

25000 applied; 4000 admitted. By any stretch of the calculator, thats only about a 16% acceptance rate. It's one that has left many independent OS X developers behind.

You might argue that the remaining 84% of applicants had access to the SDK and the simulator but that would miss the point. Many iPhone-specific features like core location and onboard sensors cannot be tested in the simulator. They're platform-based only. Without the $99 program, developers cannot deploy to the iPhone itself and test there. So their development possibilities are seriously hampered.

And testing is only part of the problem. AppStore access is contingent on dev program acceptance. Those 99 dollars give you the right to sell your product to millions of iPhone users. With such a low acceptance rate, many companies have been placed at a financial crossroads with respect to the iPhone. Should they continue to develop for a platform where they have no access? Or should they walk away and write it off?

What Paul's company ended up doing is what I know a lot of companies ended up doing. They had their developers apply as individuals as well as a company. Eventually someone got in and they used the individual license to get the corporate effort up and going.

You may argue that my post back in March mischaracterized those mass Apple mailings as rejection letters. But time has now shown that in fact they were.

Paul writes: "Ultimately, the problem here is with communications, or lack thereof, from Apple. When Apple first announced the SDK, thousands of developers rushed to apply for the development program, a flood for which Apple may not have been prepared. However, since then, Apple has bungled the processing these requests. Confusing emails and a lack of useful correspondence have left us waiting to hear the status of our application for a full three months and counting." Rogue Amoeba is a respected long-standing Mac development house with several best-in-class apps on offer.

(Full disclosure: I continue to write for O'Reilly as well as TUAW.)

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