Whether you are a seasoned business-veteran or brand new entrepreneur, if you’re going into Apple’s development world, there are some key legal tidbits you need to know. From the inquiries I receive and the traffic this topic brings to the site, I know that Apple’s Developer Program raises a lot of questions. I’ll try to answer the most prevalent here. These answers are based on my personal experience and reflect the laws of my state and country: Virginia, USA. Please do not take this as legal advice. I’m only sharing what I have learned from my own experience.
If I don’t get to your specific question, drop me a comment. I try to personally respond as much as possible. Here’s the top 4 questions I have heard:
Do you need an LLC to be in the Developer Program?
Short answer: No. Apple does not require you to create an LLC in order to enroll into their programs. If you are applying to the Individual Developer program, you do not need any form of incorporation. All you need is a valid credit card. Your tax information for any money earned will go through your social security number as personal income.
If you are applying for the Company program, you will need to prove to Apple that you are able to legally enter into binding contracts. This means you will need to be defined as a business through your state. Usually, this entails incorporating, licensing, creating an LLC or a DBA. Check your local laws.
What’s the difference between the Individual and Company Developer Programs?
The Individual Developer Program is designed for those who will be creating an app strictly on their own. This doesn’t mean you can’t outsource help, but it implies that only one person will have access to iTunes Connect. Remember, iTunes Connect is the on-line interface used to submit and track your apps. If you choose an Individual program, only that individual will have access to the app development process.
The Company Developer Program is much more flexible for those wanting to work with a team. You will be given administrator rights to an iTunes Connect account. You will then be able to enlist team members for various roles. If you are going to outsource the actual coding of your app, for example, you will be able to invite a coder who then has access to those tools in iTunes Connect. You can restrict certain access to the various roles, according to your needs.
How long does it take to become a Developer?
I can only reference my personal experience. From the time I submitted my application, it took 6 business days to become verified. I was told by Apple that having all the required LLC information helps speed processing. What ever you can do to make it easier for Apple to identify you as a legal business agent will be time well spent. I have heard horror stories of businesses who, because of some clerical errors, were delayed months in the verification process. When you apply, take the time to make sure all your submitted information is correct.
If you are applying for the individual program, I hear the verification process is near-immediate.
What are the costs?
The costs for starting a business vary greatly from state to state. In Virginia, it costs $99 to file an LLC. (This does not include the costs of having that paper work done… That was another $99) Once you are set up as a legal business, however, the costs for joining the Individual or Company Developer Program will be $99 for a one year subscription. This gives you access to iTunes Connect and the iOS Development Kit.
If you have more questions, I don’t mind sharing what I’ve learned so far. Drop me a comment or send me an email and I’ll be glad to respond. Good luck with any future developing!
Picture courtesy of Apple.com