Google Voice embraced by Apple?
Hades chilly, porkers airborne
We may be about to witness the final chapter of that interminable Russian novel War and Peace and Apple and AT&T and Google Voice. Reports have surfaced that Mountain View's native iPhone app for its telephony service might finally be accepted into the sacred confines of the iTunes App Store.
To quote Jerome John Garcia, "What a long, strange trip it's been."
The saga began in July of last year, when Apple barred not only Google Voice from the App Store, but also dumped two Google Voice-enabled third-party apps. Google was not pleased — and neither was the US Federal Communications Commission.
Shortly after the App Store police's purge, the FCC demanded that Apple, Google, and AT&T reveal why Google Voice got the boot — and an epic round of finger-pointing began.
Google's letter in response to the FCC's six-question request for info said that Apple reps had told them that "the Google Voice application was rejected because Apple believed the application duplicated the the core dialer functionality of the iPhone."
Google also "respectfully" requested that portions of its response be kept confidential "in light of the sensitive nature of commercial discussions" — and in one of those sensitive section they revealed that the no-go order was passed down to them not by some mere functionary, but by sometime–Jobsian keynote stand-in, Apple marketing headman Phil Schiller.
Cupertino's comments also noted that "Apple is acting alone and has not consulted with AT&T about whether or not to approve the Google Voice application."
After Apple made their FCC letter public, Google essentially said "The hell with it," and dropped its confidentialty request and allowed the Commission to release the letter.
For their part, AT&T's legal eagle issued a statement saying: "Let me state unequivocally, AT&T had no role in any decision by Apple to not accept the Google Voice application for inclusion in the Apple App Store."
When asked to describe Google's communications with AT&T on the matter, Mountain View's reponse was succinct: "None."
AT&T had plenty to say to the FCC about Google, though. In a sideshow to the central Google Voice brouhaha, Big Phone attacked Mountain View's blocking of unprofitable phone calls over Google Voice, calling it a violation of telecommunications regulations.
And that's where l'affaire Google Voice stalled — until earlier this month, when the developer of one of the originally banned third party Google Voice apps, GV Mobile, was told by Apple that his app would be approved if he resubmitted it. The app reappeared on the App Store last Saturday.
So what has changed? Well, as with so many things Cupertinian, it's not entirely clear — but it's certainly no coincidence that Apple's more-relaxed attitude towards both Google Voice and third-party apps that tap into Google's telephony service come hot on the heels of the release of Jobs & Co's App Store Review Guidelines, which finally spell out with some specificity what will and won't be approved for inclusion in the sacred Store.
Of course, TechCrunch's source may be incorrect — neither Apple nor Google are talking — but our hunch is that you'll soon be able to download a copy of a native iPhone version of Google Voice in short order.
This is actually simple.
No, AT&T did not specifically intervene in the google app approval process. They didn't have to... It was in Apple's contract with AT&T to not allow IP calls, a term negotiated during the strong-arming apple used to get unlimited data for $20 including 200 free texts in the data plan (later changed to $30 without texts). Keep in mind, the original contracts between Apple and (Cingular) were done when the iPhone had no 3rd party apps at all. AT&T had already negotiated their changes to the cingular contract before the 3G and the SDK were released. (they had been negotiating deal changes since the day the bought Cingular).
Apple, under AT&Ts non disclosure of their mutual contract terms, could not publicly communicate the reason they had to previously reject google's app, so they made up the "replaces functionality" thing.
AT&T really is the reason google could not be approved, ecven though they were not directly involved. Likely, googles use of some internal functions were also questinoable, especially including the address book, and may have contributed. The fact it could directly dial calls from within its own interface, including auto-answering the incoming call connection, might have been an issue too. Finally the ability to potentially hide incoming callers behind false callerID put a kink in AT&T's "A-List" plan, something appel would I'm sure also be held to protect under secret contracts.
Could it not be a matter of perspective?
From a sales perspective, when the Google Voice was initially submitted to the iPhone, the question of whether the iPhone was going to be a real success was still up in the air. Also, the exclusivity deals are falling by the wayside and Apple probably doesn't have to bow down to pressure from them as much. Now I assume they are confident that simply allowing a Google App isn't going to damage them, but actually help them a it starts to remove the gaps between Android and iPhone (excluding walled garden and all).
I think it was Mr. Papermaster, the head iPhone guy, and Jobs let him roll
with it until Paperman left the company abruptly after iPhone 4 came out.
I'd say his departure opened up a differnt vision for the App store, one that may have been brooding before his exit.
Where's the 2 cents icon?