Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Who silenced Google's Voice - AT&T or Apple?

By Karen Masullo for CandidAdvisors

I did two things last week: I got an iPhone and I was invited to the Google Voice Beta. I am thrilled with both. Everything working, my efficiency increasing. All good.

Also, I was excited about AT&T's partnering with Barnes & Noble to offer Free WiFi, and its new SocialScope - "a mobile inbox for your social networks".

My world was at Geekgirl peace.

Yesterday however, I looked for Google Voice applications in the iPhone store.

Boy is my timing lousy.

As covered yesterday in the Silicon Valley Insider:

Google said for the second time in a week that it had invested time and money in creating an iPhone app, only to have it rejected by Apple (AAPL).

This time, it's a Google Voice app that Apple snubbed. Google Voice is an Internet phone service that includes free calling, text messaging, intelligent call routing, etc. Last week, Google admitted that Apple rejected an app for its Latitude social networking service, which Google later launched as a Web site.

But was it Apple or AT&T? Apple says there were redundancies in overlapping applications (what about Skype??), but as mused by Mashable's Stan Schroeder:

Google Voice (Google Voice) lets you do a lot of stuff for free that the AT&T charges for; you can place free calls in the US, you can send and receive free SMS messages. The application is still in beta, invite only stage, but several cool applications that use the service already exist for the iPhone. Sean Kovacs, the developer of GV Mobile, has said on his site that Apple has rejected the application. From his site:

“Richard Chipman from Apple just called – he told me they’re removing GV Mobile from the App Store due to it duplicating features that the iPhone comes with (Dialer, SMS, etc). He didn’t actually specify which features, although I assume the whole app in general.”

Other similar applications, such as VoiceCentral and GVDialer, have also been banned. And Google only has an official Google Voice app for the Android and BlackBerry; now, they’ve admitted that they don’t have an iPhone app because Apple said “no”.

The reason? The application(s) is too similar to iPhone’s own functionality. Like so many other Apple’s app rejection reasons, this one rings phony as well. If nothing that’s similar to functions and features iPhone already has can get approval, then no VoIP apps should be allowed. Also no camera-related apps, like Pro Camera. Fring (Fring)? It lets you place calls, and send free messages, which is similar to SMS, right? Why is that OK, then?

If AT&T is truly the reason behind the ban, is it really in AT&T's best interest to alienate the Google Voice market? There are thousands of small businesses that have found Google Voice a welcome answer to tight budgets, and iPhone users still need an AT&T data plan. Texting still costs.

More important, if this is an AT&T driven action, calls placed to a Google Voice number forward to a real phone--in my case my iPhone.

Isn't this a bit of killing the messenger?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for Commenting. We value your input.