Apple, Google, And AT&T Respond To FCC's Google Voice Questions

Apparently, Apple didn’t reject the Google Voice application for iPhone. They “[continue] to study it.” Yesterday, Apple, AT&T, and Google all turned in their responses to the FCC’s questions as part of the investigation into the bannination of Google Voice from the iPhone App Store.

Short version of events: It’s all Apple’s fault. Apple is allegedly not only annoyed at Google’s domination of the iPhone platform, but lying outright about what happened to the Google Voice app.

According to Apple’s statement to the FCC, the Google Voice application is still being held because it so radically alters the way that regular phone calls are made and text messages composed on the phone.

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.

Apple also took the opportunity to explain that yes, they do reject some applications at AT&T’s request: namely, some VoIP and television applications.

There is a provision in Apple’s agreement with AT&T that 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. Apple honors this obligation, in addition to respecting AT&T’s customer Terms of Service, which, for example, prohibit an AT&T customer from using AT&T’s cellular service to redirect a TV signal to an iPhone. 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.

In AT&T makes a point in their press release to remind consumers that they can still access Google Voice through its web interface:

AT&T does not block consumers from accessing any lawful website on the Internet. Consumers can download or launch a multitude of compatible applications directly from the Internet, including Google Voice, through any web-enabled wireless device. As a result, any AT&T customer may access and use Google Voice on any web-enabled device operating on AT&T’s network, including the iPhone, by launching the application through their web browser, without the need to use the Apple App Store.

So that’s what the companies say. It’s all quite understandable and innocuous. Too bad it isn’t actually true. Techcrunch’s sources claim that most of the responses are lies, half-truths, or at best, misleading.The part of Google’s statement that deals with this subject is, tellingly, redacted in the version released to the public.

Multiple sources at Google tell us that in informal discussions with Apple over the last few months Apple expressed dismay at the number of core iPhone apps that are powered by Google. Search, maps, YouTube, and other key popular apps are powered by Google. Other than the browser, Apple has little else to call its own other than the core phone, contacts and calendar features. The Google Voice App takes things one step further, by giving users an incentive to abandon their iPhone phone number and use their Google Voice phone number instead (transcription of voicemails is reason enough alone). Apple was afraid, say our sources, that Google was gaining too much power on the iPhone, and that’s why they rejected the application.

The Truth: What’s Really Going On With Apple, Google, AT&T And The FCC [Techcrunch]
Apple Answers The FCC’s Questions [Apple]
ATT Response to FCC iPhone Letter [Scribd]
Google Response to FCC [Scribd]

FCC Asks Apple, AT&T To Explain Why They Rejected Google Voice App
Three Ways To Use Google Voice On Your iPhone
Who Killed The Google Voice iPhone Application?

(Photo: dcwriterdawn)