Apple, Kleiner partner on iPhone fund

Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) has enlisted Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers to help incubate application makers for its iPhone mobile phone through a $100 million fund.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced the computer-maker would sell an iPhone software developer’s kit for $99 to would-be coders and sell their creations through an online store last week. Apple will take 30% of the revenue of any application for its hardware sold through the online store.

Apple stands to earn a nice chunk of change from any application that takes off, which may be why it has partnered with Kleiner Perkins to help incubate would-be profit centers.

It is unclear if Apple is a limited partner in the Kleiner Perkins-managed fund. Neither Apple nor Kleiner Perkins has registered the new fund with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Kleiner Perkins Partner Matt Murphy will lead the fund with help from John Doerr, Bill Joy, Randy Komisar, Ted Schlein and Chi-Hua Chien.

Platform-based funds are not new territory for VCs. iN 1996, Kleiner Perkins raised a $70 million fund to address startup opportunities on the Java programming platform. At least three of the five portfolio companies from the fund went public and one was successfully sold, according to Thomson Financial (publisher of PE Week).

More recently, firms have announced specific funds or investment programs internal to their existing funds to address opportunities on the emerging Facebook social networking and software-as-a-service platforms.

The Apple partnership with Kleiner Perkins differs significantly from competitors’ efforts. Search engine company Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) announced an incentive program for developers interested in creating programs for Google’s mobile phone software four months ago. The Google program consists of 10 grants of $100,000 each to what it deems to be the best applications written on its platform. —Alexander Haislip