It seems like everyone wants to develop apps for the iPhone these days. It’s not hard to see why.

Get-rich-quick stories and a plethora of unemployed techies have made the iPhone an appealing target for developers.

There’s only one problem: Apple is can’t keep up with them and is leaving many of them behind.

It’s being reported that some developers waiting for Apple’s approval so that they can offer their iPhone apps in the App Store are being forced to wait months for that approval. The approval process, at one point, only took days.

Making matters worse, those who are already selling apps through the App Store are finding that Apple is unprepared to renew their one-year contracts, which are set to expire soon. Apple originally told developers that they’d have the ability to ask for a new contract online within the 90 days preceding expiration. That hasn’t happened.

Ars Technica was able to get in touch with an Apple representative, who stated that “This program was not yet in place last year, and Apple needs time.

Huh? If Apple told developers it was going to provide a means for them to ask for a new contract 90 days prior to expiration, it had plenty of time over the past year to get its act together and given how big a hit iPhone apps have been with consumers and developers, you’d think Apple would have decided to deal with the issue sooner than later.

Obviously for whatever reason Apple is ill-prepared to manage its hugely successful iPhone developer program. For a company that has built such a solid reputation that’s not exactly inspiring.

In a cynical post, ZDNet’s Adrian Kingsley-Hughes writes:

iPhone developers are tiny irrelevant cogs in a massive Apple-branded global
machine. Developers, along with their applications, can come and go and the
overall effect on Apple and iPhone sales will be zero. Exiting developers
will be replaced by the applications of the next generation of developers hoping
to strike it big.

This may be true but companies that treat their stakeholders like irrelevant cogs usually eventually end up with no stakeholders.

This applies to Apple and therefore Apple should not take developers for granted. If its shoddy handling of its developer program continues and developers find that the hassle of trying to participate outweighs the potential rewards, enough of them will eventually ditch the iPhone for other pastures, even if they aren’t as green. A great brand can only cover for bad service for so long.