Google Voice for iPhone is still officially 'under review' by Apple

The FCC came onto AT&T and Apple with all its might to make sure that there was nothing wrong with the fact that Apple *seems* to be pulling out voice over IP applications that *could* damage the revenue stream of its partner AT&T. A lot of nothing came out of the whole thing. Here’s how I would put it out:

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FCC: Apple, why did you reject Google Voice for iPhone?

Apple: We’re not “rejecting” it, we’re reviewing it…

FCC: Huh.. ok

FCC: AT&T, did you get Apple to do that?

AT&T: Nope

FCC: Huh…ok

The reality is (a bit) more complex, head to the full post to see what each party has to say. It is sometimes amusing to see how everyone tries to walk the line, as everyone interests would seem quite obvious to iPhone users.

Here’s what AT&T has to say (extract):

“Let me state unequivocally, AT&T had no role in any decision by Apple to not accept the Google Voice application for inclusion in the Apple App Store,” said Jim Cicconi, AT&T senior executive vice president for external and legislative affairs told the news wire.

“Apple alone makes the final decisions to approve or not approve iPhone applications,” the company said in its questions, however does conceed that AT&T terms of service “obligates Apple not to include functionality in any Apple phone that enables a customer to use AT&T’s cellular network service to originate or terminate a VoIP session without obtaining AT&T’s permission,” which it says it honours.

“From time to time, AT&T has expressed concerns regarding network efficiency and potential network congestion associated with certain applications, and Apple takes such concerns into consideration,” Apple states.

And Apple:

Contrary to published reports, Apple has not rejected the Google Voice application, and continues to study it. The application has not been approved because, as submitted for review, it appears to alter the iPhone’s distinctive user experience by replacing the iPhone’s core mobile telephone functionality and Apple user interface with its own user interface for telephone calls, text messaging and voicemail. Apple spent a lot of time and effort developing this distinct and innovative way to seamlessly deliver core functionality of the iPhone. For example, on an iPhone, the “Phone” icon that is always shown at the bottom of the Home Screen launches Apple’s mobile telephone application, providing access to Favorites, Recents, Contacts, a Keypad, and Visual Voicemail. The Google Voice application replaces Apple’s Visual Voicemail by routing calls through a separate Google Voice telephone number that stores any voicemail, preventing voicemail from being stored on the iPhone, i.e., disabling Apple’s Visual Voicemail. Similarly, SMS text messages are managed through the Google hub—replacing the iPhone’s text messaging feature. In addition, the iPhone user’s entire Contacts database is transferred to Google’s servers, and we have yet to obtain any assurances from Google that this data will only be used in appropriate ways. These factors present several new issues and questions to us that we are still pondering at this time.

Read the full Apple reply

So… what do you make of it?It seems to me that Apple and AT&T cannot close the doorto VOIP applicationsissue and if pressed, they would bend, but not without trying avoiding it (Skype works really well on Windows Mobile and 3G, btw). At stake, there’s not only AT&T’s potential loss of revenues to VOIP, but there’s also the extra network usage that would make a popular VOIP application a double whammyon AT&T, but you know what, my 3G subscription is as expensive as my DSL subscription, so it’s hard to feel any sympathy for AT&T.

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