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Wednesday, March 12, 2008, 08:00 am PT (11:00 am ET)

"Too much interest" in iPhone SDK presents challenges

Apple Inc. is facing a rather inviting problem in the wake of last week's iPhone SDK announcement, and one that the company is all too familiar with — a response so overwhelming that it raises questions over how well the firm is prepared to handle the resulting demand.

For instance, an article in BusinessWeek notes that while developers are genuinely pleased with the kit, some have been inhibited in their initial efforts due to a lack of guidance from the company and a slew of muddy guidelines over discussing the intricacies of the iPhone platform with fellow programmers.

"The problem that Apple has right now is, there's too much interest in the iPhone SDK," said the Iconfactory's Craig Hockenberry, one of several developers contacted by the business publication who say their questions to the company have gone unanswered for weeks at a time.

Developers wishing to author native applications for the iPhone and iPod touch must ink their named to 2,700-word non-disclosure agreement (NDA), which stipulates that they not "disclose, publish, or disseminate any confidential information to anyone other than to other registered iPhone developers" who work for the same firm.

"Many programmers feel inhibited from turning to one another for help because of the confidentiality agreement," said BusinessWeek. "The restriction hasn't stopped some developers from using public forums to answer each other's questions—though it has given some pause."

Meanwhile, venture capitalist firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which announced a $100 million dollar fund aimed at jump-starting third-party iPhone development, has been so inundated with proposals that it now admits it may have to increase its bounty.

According to Matt Murphy, a partner at the firm, his colleagues had a running bet over how many business plans they'd receive from prospective iPhone developers in the first 30-days following the announcement of their fund. While Murphy declined to reveal that number, he said it was easily surpassed within 36 hours.

This immediate charge on the part of developers presents further questions regarding the virtual shelf space Apple's prepared to offer third parties, adds the San Francisco Chronical, whose piece on iPhone gaming notes that id Software and Pangea Software are among the gaming houses that intend to release titles for the iPhone.

"My only concern is that everyone and their brother is jumping on the iPhone app bandwagon, so it may make it difficult to market a product when there are a zillion others coming out at the same time," said Pangea's Brian Greenstone.