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iPhone finds its Google Voice

AT&T won't be amused

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Apple has told a third-party developer that his Google Voice client will be approved when resubmitted, though fans may have to buy it for a third time.

GV Mobile connects an iPhone user to Google Voice for cheap calls and text messaging, and sold well for the months it was listed in the iTunes store. But when an official application from Google got rejected by Apple, GV Mobile was thrown out too.

The developer, Steve Kovacs, then took his product to the unofficial app store Cydia, inviting jailbreaking iPhone users to buy the app. But as GV Mobile breaks none of Apple's newly-published rules, Cupertino has now said that if he resubmits the app it will get approval.

That paves the way for Google to get its official version approved too, which should give GV Mobile some competition as fans have already paid for it twice (once while it was in the iTunes app store, and again on Cydia) and might balk at buying the app a third time.

The FCC investigated Apple's rejection of Google Voice, suspecting collusion or possibly conspiracy, but found no evidence of either. AT&T and Google denied everything, and Apple presented a very weak selection of arguments and said that it didn't matter anyway as it hadn't rejected the app as such - it was still mulling the issue over, and has been for the last 12 months.

As we said at the time, it's more likely that Apple was simply acting in the interests of its biggest customer, AT&T, rather than an illegal conspiracy cooked up in a smoke-filled room.

Apple is increasingly willing to step away from the network operators who worked so hard to make the iPhone affordable, and allowing Google Voice is going to strain that relationship further. But mulling couldn't last forever, and Apple knew that it risked anti-trust attention if it ultimately rejected Google Voice in all its forms.

So the iPhone gets a little more open, Google expands its telecoms business and the mobile operators get sidelined even further. ®

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