Saturday, August 1, 2009

Note to Apple, RE Google Voice & iPhone

Mr Jobs,

As you must no doubt be aware, Google has submitted their Google Voice application for inclusion in your beloved App store, with hopes of taking up a small square of real estate on the most popular tech toy since the invention of the mouse.

Word on the street
is that, in your infinite wisdom, you have chosen to reject this application, and I'm sure you have your reasons. Competing functions, network bandwidth considerations, I'm sure they are very similar to the reasons not given for the initial rejection of Skype on the iPhone.

It is well known that you were out of office for extended periods over the last 18 months. I wonder if you had time to watch any of the political coverage as you were recovering.

It would seem impossible, that you were unaware that one of the lead technical advisers to the current administration was one Eric Schmidt, Google Chief Executive and Apple Board Member. Given this fact, one would think that Apple would think twice before tweaking the nose one of it's own board member in such a transparently anti-competitive manner.

Google makes a phone OS as well, as I am sure you know, but not content to offer their services to their brethren only, The Google Voice application for iPhone was developed at some expense to Google, and offered up for use on your platform as well as some other not so picky handsets. Clearly a cum baya moment if ever there was one.

Even as the tech world is now is scrambling to cover the fallout from your decision, the mention of Mr Schmidt's association has not even come up. Odd that, it would seem an obvious line of journalistic investigation.

One well placed phone call from Google's Chief Executive and the questions would start flying. But perhaps I am jumping to conclusions here. There is, of course, no direct evidence that the aforementioned phone call ever took place, It could be that the FCC was just reading the news, and saw a problem for the public and is acting proactively to ensure and foster fair competition. Yeah, that sounds like a government organization.

Whatever the reason, the FCC has, in fact, decided this whole situation is worth a look-see. The finger pointing on whose call it was to deny this little square to Google has already begun. Some point at AT&T, while AT&T is pointing squarely back at Apple.

AT&T does not manage or approve applications for the App Store. We have received the letter and will, of course, respond to it.Customers can use any compatible GSM phone on our network, not just the ones we?ve approved and sell. And they also can use apps we don?t approve. We don?t approve iPhone applications.

Seems pretty cut and dry. Except that Apple has a responsibility to it's carrier partners to deny any app that will negatively impact the carrier's network or business model. An argument could be made, and indeed has been made, that Apple was just honoring this agreement (Which we are not privy to the text of).

So in closing, Steve, if I may call you Steve, what gives here?
Where is the legendary foresight? (Not seeing the inevitability of Govt intervention.)
Where is the visionary thinking? (If the carrier can't compete with VOIP that is their problem)

Where is your responsibility to your customers on this?

Meanwhile Google is not content to stand idly by.
"We work hard to bring Google applications to a number of mobile platforms, including the iPhone. Apple Inc. did not approve the Google Voice application we submitted six weeks ago to the Apple App Store. We will continue to work to bring our services to iPhone users - for example, by taking advantage of advances in mobile browsers."
Translation: It's coming whether you or At&T like it or not, so why the runaround? Maybe your hope is just to cripple it in the same way as Lattitude.

Thanks for listening,

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