04 Aug The FCC Looks Into The Google Voice App Rejection
It is wonderful when the government gets involved where and as it should. Let’s hope that this turns out to be for the best.
I won’t go into all of the details, since they are readily available elsewhere (The Apple Blog). But here’s the gist.
Google Voice is a service that Google offers now that allows users to have a single phone number that can then ring any number of other phones depending on rules that the user establishes. As well, it offers transcribed voicemails via email. I have been tinkering with the idea for some time, but the startup pains would be sizable, since I would have to retrain everyone I know to call the new number.
Well, there was an iPhone app that gave access to the Google Voice service. Meanwhile, Google worked on its own Google Voice app. Suddenly, Apple rejected Google’s app under the terms that it duplicates existing functionality already on the iPhone. Never mind the obvious issues with that statement for now. Just know that they also suddenly pulled the already-approved app that was out there.
Going even further, if I’ve read the posts correctly, Apple started refunding the price of the original app to users who had concerns that the app would not be updated, since it had been pulled from the App Store. As I read it, Apple not only refunded the full price to users, but took that money from the developer. Note, the developer only got 70% of the original sales to begin with, so now he’s losing money on the deal while Apple keeps its 30%. This may be in the terms of the developer’s agreement, perhaps, but how fair is it that the developer kept his end of the bargain and Apple just decided, out of the blue, to screw him? I wish I had that kind of deal with someone… “hey, you just give me money for no reason.”
Moving on, there was a lot of speculation that AT&T asked Apple to disallow the Google Voice app, for whatever reason. Perhaps they are afraid that it will allow users to more easily leave AT&T for other cell carriers (more likely it’s because Google Voice sends SMS messages for free). Perhaps they misunderstood what the app and Google Voice do and thought it would overtax their network. But then again, there are Google Voice apps running on other cellphone platforms (BlackBerry and Windows Mobile) that are on the AT&T network. Why aren’t they disallowing those? And there are other, apparently competitive, apps that have been approved that would surely put a strain on the AT&T network. I’m speaking of YouTube (comes with the iPhone out of the box), Slingbox, Skype, and the list goes on. And as far as duplicate functionality… well, then why doesn’t Apple pull or disallow all of the Notes apps?
At this point, the FCC is stepping in and making inquiries. I hope this comes out as a win for consumers. We really could use some good news in these trying times.