Eric B.

Apple Says NO WAY to Google Voice

What I want to know is where you can buy just jacket sleeves.Strike up the ominous-sound string section, Speech Heads. Invoking its ban against apps that “duplicate features of the iPhone,” Apple has rejected Google Voice’s application to be offered through the App Store—dum dah!

The app, which has already been launched on Android and BlackBerry handsets, has been “under review” for the last six weeks for iPhone release and was roundly rejected  yesterday. Despite Apple’s officially stated reasons, prevailing wisdom on Wired, Gizmodo, and PCWorld maintains that Apple made its decision to shield its partner AT&T from having to compete with Google.

Among the features that Google Voice offers its users are:

  • The ability to allow users to share a single number across different phones (the Grand Central functionality);
  • SMS;
  • Voicemail;
  • Voicemail-to-text; and
  • Cheap-o international calls

The kicker here is that Google provides all this for free (except the international calls) in opposition to, say, AT&T’s pay services. Most worrying for the provider, some speculate, is the Grand Central functionality, because it has the capacity to make phone numbers (one of the main holds telcos have over customers) irrelevant. The move might have been expected considering how disruptive Google can be, and given that Apple has total control over what apps make it on to an iPhone, and double given that Apple profits best when AT&T stands to make gains.

The move, however, has opened the monarchically-run App Store to increased criticism—and from a powerful voices (no pun intended) like Google. This is by no means new. A chorus has been growing. Back in April, Skype and a number of other parties, asked federal authorities to enforce its broadband (read: net neutrality) rules in the wireless space, and prevent telcos and OEMs from blocking or restricting access to features and services. The feds, however, haven’t made any moves, so it’s still unclear which way this will swing.

As my brother Adam B. has said while polishing his Chicago typewriter, “The only thing that can be certain about the future is that men will die. Awful and bloody deaths.”