Three iPhone application developers are cited in an online petition which asks Apple to approve their apps, all of which have been sitting in limbo for months on end. The developers are awaiting word about their new DJ applications which let users mix loops of their own iTunes tracks stored in their iPhone or iPod Touch's music library.

In this case, it's speculated that the holdup either has to do with rights issues surrounding the music or possibly the way the apps in question access the music library. But without word from Apple, the developers can't be sure. The delays have angered fans, too, one of whom created the petition in hopes of forcing Apple's hand.

Update: One of the applications was just approved. Click through for more info.

Why the Delay?

The three developers mentioned in the fan-posted petition include Amidio, Pajamahouse Studios, and Musicsoft Arts. All three have created DJ applications which tap into a users' own iTunes library. Unlike the DJ applications already available in the App Store, these new apps let users mix their own tracks while offering features like simultaneous playback of multiple tracks, pitch, fade, tempo, and more. Other DJ applications, on the other hand, only let users mix loops that have no rights associated with them.

The rights issue may be one of the problems causing the delays. It's highly likely that the labels don't want their artists' songs to be used in this way without some sort of controls in place - if they deem to allow this type of interaction at all. If that's the case, though, the developers simply want Apple to tell them so.

Another explanation for the delay may have to do with Apple's current ban on dual access to the iPhone's music library via third-party applications. In order to work around this ban, the developers came up with an alternative method which involves transferring music over Wi-Fi instead. Of course, Apple may see this "workaround" as just a loophole allowing the developers to break the rules while not technically violating any of Apple's edicts. But again, without word from the company itself, there's no way to be sure.

The Petition

Although the developers themselves aren't behind the online petition, they've been frustrated for some time regarding the delay. For example, a posting on the Sonorasaurus blog reads:

"We have been waiting about 3 months now with no word on if we are approved and when we can release. It is nice to see other people taking issue with Apple's system and their interest in getting DJ apps on the platform. So to whomever thought to include us in their petition: Thank you."

The petition itself isn't a kindly-worded plea for Apple's attention either, but an angry letter demanding that attention instead:

There are more than 20 million of iPhone and iPod Touch users in the world, but there is no decent DJ MP3 application on iPhone/iPod Touch. Why? Because Apple doesn't approve any of them! At least two quality DJ MP3 applications - Touch DJ (www.amidio.com) and Sonorasaurus (www.sonorasaurus.com) are held "in review" since the beginning of the September. That's 8 weeks in limbo which is insane. The developers of the apps are now facing serious troubles because a lot was invested into the production of the apps. Moreover, Apple doesn't specify any reasons for such delays. There's simply no information about what is going on. This is all really weird and absolutely unfair.

Later, the petition writer adds that they had become aware of a third application, DJ Player, which was also waiting approval.

Similar Apps Already Approved

What's really strange about this current delay, writes a blogger on Sonorasaurus.com (the app from Pajamahouse Studios), is that there are applications which have already been approved by Apple that offer similar features as their new app. For example, the Quixpin DJ uses the same mixing feature, Deadmau5 Mix uses the same packaged songs feature, and Air Sharing uses the same file uploading via HTTP feature. And Musicsoft Arts already has an app called the DJ Spooky The Secret Song which uses the same codebase as the yet-to-be-approved DJ Player application.

UPDATE: Oddly enough, of the three apps in question, Amidio's application was approved first, having just launched today in the App Store. Are the others far behind? Did the petition catch Apple's eye or is this just a coincidence? We'll have to stay tuned to the other developers' websites and Twitter accounts to know for sure.

Fans Care, Too

Regardless of what happens, though, it's an interesting development to see fans getting involved in complaining to Apple instead of just the developers themselves. Although we've already seen high-profile pull-outs from notable Apple developers like Joe Hewitt who created the iPhone's Facebook application and Rogue Amoeba's Paul Kafasis who quit after a three-and-a-half month delay in app approval, we've rarely heard complaints from users outside the tech blogosphere demanding the same. Could this mean "regular" folks are now becoming aware of Apple's issues too? Possibly. The 272 people who have signed the petition aren't all Apple developers or tech pundits. They're just people who want these apps approved.

Hat tip to iLounge for pointing to this petition.