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Google says Apple silenced its Voice

Rejects non-rejection tale

Google has told the US Federal Communication Commission that Apple rejected the Google Voice and Google Lattitude apps it submitted to the iTunes App Store - though Apple says otherwise.

In fact, Google's response to the FCC's letter (PDFs) requesting clarification of Apple's rejection of the apps states that the rejection was ordered by no less a luminary than Cupertino's SVP of marketing and Jobsian keynote stand-in, Phil Schiller.

But don't get your conspiritorial knickers too firmly in a twist. Apple may merely be playing semantic games. As may Google.

Google had originally asked that its letter to the FCC remain confidential. However, in a blog post on Friday, Google counsel Richard Whitt reported that the company had dropped this request, citing Freedom of Information Act requests submitted to the FCC by "several individuals and organizations" and the fact that Apple had earlier released its own response.

The confidentiality request, according to Whitt, covered parts of the letter that referred to "sensitive commercial conversations between two companies - namely, a description of e-mails, telephone conversations, and in-person meetings between executives at Google and Apple."

Specifically, Google asked the FCC to keep confidential the admission that it was Schiller who personally conveyed Apple's rejections to Google's SVP of engineering and research, Alan Eustace.

Google also had asked the FCC to keep under wraps Apple's stated reasons for rejecting the apps: namely that Google Voice duplicated the "core dialer functionality of the iPhone" and that Google Lattitude replaced the iPhone's preloaded Maps application, which Apple claimed could lead to "user confusion."

Apple's late-August response to their FCC information-request letter (PDF) had a subtler take on Google's firm declaration of rejection. In a public posting of their communication with the FCC, Cupertino claimed that "Contrary to published reports, Apple has not rejected the Google Voice application, and continues to study it."

From Apple's point of view, it seems, a lack of approval is not equivalent to a rejection - even if, as Google's letter states, that lack of approval was conveyed by Cupertino's top marketing man and subsequently defined by Google to the FCC as a rejection.

From our point of view: If it looks like a rejection, waddles like a rejection, and quacks like a rejection, it's a rejection. At least until it morphs into an acceptance, which Apple's withholding of approval has not yet done.

That said, we aver that there's little if any boiling bad blood between Apple and Google at this time - at least not enough to cause irreparable harm to what remains a mutually beneficial relationship.

AT&T, for its part, also received a request for clarification (PDF) from the FCC, but it has firmly washed its hands of the entire imbroglio.

In Big Phone's FCC response (PDF), also in late August, senior EVP for external and legislative affairs James Cicconi wrote: "AT&T had no role in any decision by Apple to not accept the Google Voice application for inclusion in the Apple App Store. AT&T was not asked about the matter by Apple at any time, nor did it offer any view one way or the other."

In other words, AT&T want no part of any argument over the non-rejection rejection. ®

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