US Report: Apple overhauls developer program

Apple this week announced it has scrapped its developer programs in favour of three new programs the company said will be easier for developers to understand.

The entry-level program, dubbed the Apple Developer Connection Online, is free. Participants can visit Apple's developer Web site for technical information and subscribe to a newsletter. In addition, developers can now purchase technical support on a per-incident basis. "We need to be lowering the barriers to doing Mac development instead of raising them," said Clent Richardson, Apple director of worldwide developer relations. Richardson said under the previous system developers had to be a member of the entry-level, $250 (£150) Associate program to purchase technical assistance.

Rounding out the new program offerings are the Select and Premier programs. The former costs $500 (£300) per year and includes a monthly Developer CD with documentation, software developers kits, system software and other development tools. Access to the Apple Seed Software CD, FTP site and Compatibility Labs, two technical support consultations and a $100 (£60) coupon for Metrowerks products are also included.

Members of Apple's Premier program, which costs $3,500 (£2,083) a year, get the same benefits as Select program members with the addition of a $300 (£178.60) Metrowerks coupon, a pass to the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference and Apple hardware discounts.

Ralph Katieb, a senior software engineer with Worthington Software Engineering, said the changes are helpful. "I feel that Apple is finally doing a good job of encouraging participation of smaller Mac development shops," he said. Others, however, felt differently. According to Mac programmer Steve Sisak, a consultant with Codewell, "the hardware discount isn't really such a big deal. In general, Apple is cosying up to the big guys, the ones who can afford everything."

"We are going to have to watch to see if Apple is serious about still supporting the grass-roots developers," said Mark Kriegsman, president of an Internet software developer in Boston. "I am concerned about the hobbyist developers, where Apple has traditionally had a strong following."