Hardware

iOS Developer Program application headaches and tips

Justin James explains the iOS Developer Program's four membership options and recounts the snags he ran into when applying for his account.

Early in your path to learning iOS development, you will want to sign up for the iOS Developer Program. This program has a number of benefits; the biggest one is that you can publish your apps in the App Store and directly push them to an iPad or iPhone for testing on a live machine. Beyond that, the iOS Developer Program gives you the ability to download betas of iOS and grants you access to a wealth of technical resources.

Applying for the program is pretty easy in theory, but there can be some pitfalls. Before you apply, you should know what kind of membership you want. There are four versions, but only three of them are for commercial use. The academic program is for people in accredited schools to allow them to try their hand at iOS development, but they cannot publish apps. The individual and company programs are identical except for two major differences: individual memberships do not require much identity verification, and company memberships allow you to assign users under your account. The enterprise program allows for private deployments of applications. Pricing is another difference between the programs: Academic is free, individual and company are $99 a year, and enterprise is $299 per year.

While the steps of enrollment are pretty easy, there can be snags. The first hangup is the need to fax in paperwork. Yes, I said fax. If you are a medium or a large business, this is not an issue; there is always a fax machine somewhere in the building if you look hard enough. But for a small business or a startup, faxing documents might mean a special trip out.

Once I faxed in my paperwork, Apple responded pretty quickly. Less than six hours later, I received an email telling me to call them. When I called them, I found out they had a problem with my documents. They asked for a "certificate of formation" and in South Carolina, the Secretary of State issues a "certificate of existence." What is truly sad is that the text of the different documents from state-to-state are virtually identical. And between being a single member LLC, officially being in the county but not an actual municipality, and the minimal paperwork needed to be a business in South Carolina, I did not have any of the other requested documents.

The case was escalated a number of times, but it was clear that while everyone I spoke with was sympathetic to my plight, understood my position exactly, and was willing to work very hard to see me through to get the matter resolved, they could not change or make exceptions to policy. It is clear that the policy is silly, because a number of states apparently issue certificates of existence, but Apple is not willing to make exceptions. I want to make it very clear that everyone I dealt with at Apple was extraordinarily customer-focused and non-confrontational. Instead of just stonewalling me like so many other customer "service" groups like to do (Verizon, I'm looking at you), they immediately escalated issues to the right people, who then made sure to personally take ownership, provide fast responses, give me their direct extensions, and so on. Apple's personnel earned an A+ in a scenario that I am used to receiving D- quality.

At the end of the day, I was offered two choices: they could submit me as an "individual" instead of a "company," or I could get a Dun and Bradstreet Number, which is a form of identity verification for businesses. I opted for the latter. It was very painless; I searched for my company (it was already in their system) and provided a combination of personal details and business information to confirm my identity, and the system gave me the number. I called the Apple representative I spoke with, left him a voicemail with this number, and in a very short span of time (less than a couple of hours), I got an email letting me go on to the next step. Oddly enough, they charged me sales tax for the program membership even though no physical goods were sold.

All said and done, it took less than 24 hours from the time I faxed in my paperwork until the time I had an active account. However, I do not suggest that you put off your membership application until the last minute based on my good experience; once you think you may have a need for the Developer Program, you should get the ball rolling.

J.Ja

About

Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.

10 comments
smiths37
smiths37

My enrollment took about 5 months. I had to sign up a government entity - there is no "certificate of formation" or anything like that. We had to submit tax exempt documentation too. I had to submit a letter signed by legal representation stating that we wanted to enroll in the program. And EVERY time I faxed something they seemed to ignore it until I finally got tired of waiting and called them. Then they'd find my fax buried in some list from weeks before. It was seriously a nightmare.

christopherthant
christopherthant

I am on the same boat to get to the land of iOS developer membership as a small business. I just recently got my certified copy of business corporation (mine is New York). I was expecting a copy with embossed NY state sealed, but it was just a paper copy in blank ink. I had to pay 25$ for each copy. Anyway, I faxed it to Apple and they accepted it, but now they are asking me to send company letter, verification of address and ownership with my name on it. It is a HEADACHE. I just started a small IT business venturing out to the development of mobile apps. I feel as instead of Apple is helping small companies in United States, it is making more difficult. I wonder how businesses from other countries get membership approval (especially from China) and how they could get pass through legal verification process. I wish they have a single point verification system or paperless that will smooth the process and help to grow small company like mine in US market. I don't think they care. By the way, it's been more than two months now.

LadyJ2u
LadyJ2u

What business (small or large) doesn't have a fax machine? If you have a printer, then you should have an All -in-1 . . . printer, fax, copier & scanner. A no-brainer. And all businesses should have a business license, no matter how small the county is.

aculross
aculross

Pros/Cons to individual vs. company?

aculross
aculross

Does signing up as an individual mean your assets are on the line if something goes wrong? Is that why you did corporate?

Justin James
Justin James

I know LOTS of businesses (including mine) that do not have fax machines. Why should they get a phone line installed (money), turned on (money), and buy a fax machine (money) all too send 1 - 5 pages of fax a year? That's how many faxes I send in a year... and I should spend hundreds of dollars a year just to send 1 - 5 PAGES? No thanks, I'll just head out to Staples on the rare occasion when it comes up. Regarding business licenses, you are mistaken. The issue isn't the "size of the county", the issue is that the county does not issue business licenses, only the municipality. And in many places of the country, there is a lot of area that is not formally in the municipality, and as a result their rules do not apply. For example, my mailing address is in "Lexington" South Carolina, but town limits cover something like a 5 mile square... meanwhile, "Lexington" covers probably 8 x 8. That leaves a ton of area outside city limits. All sorts of rules and laws are different. If I dial 911, Lexington city police will NOT respond, I get the county sheriff. Town of Lexington forbids the discharge of firearms... I could set up a shooting range in my backyard if I wanted to, so long as no one complained about the noise. Etc. And along with that, is that while the Town of Lexington issues business licenses, the County doesn't, and there is no possible way for me to get a business license. So yes, these are headaches... unless I relocate my office into the Town of Lexington to get a business license (which has never come up until now) and spend hundreds of dollars on phone lines just to send faxes... J.Ja

swmace
swmace

Individual doesn't require as much identity verification and company account allows you to assign other users to the account.

Justin James
Justin James

... are not legal, just administrative. The big difference is that "company" allows you to let other users access the account, be added to it, removed, etc. I think it makes sense that since I occasionally work with others to have that functionality. J.Ja

LadyJ2u
LadyJ2u

wow. I guess I am mistaken. Even in my small rural county, they issued business licenses. Didn't know it could be more country than that.

Justin James
Justin James

... are absolutely shocking to me, the kinds of things that I just did not know existed in the US still until I moved here. It's not all bad, don't get me wrong (and in fact, I am looking to move even further into "the country", even though where I live now can be considered "edge of civilization"). But there are things that still come up that have my jaw dropping. And yes, the business license was one of them! J.Ja

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