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Google Has No Voice at the App Store

By Erika Morphy MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Jul 28, 2009 1:10 PM PT

Apple has refused to add a Google Voice application to its App store. Google submitted the app some six weeks ago. Apple's rejection of the third-party app has disappointed users and raised questions about partner AT&T's suspected influence in the matter. It has also revived talk about the increasingly political nature of Apple's decision-making when it comes to what's allowed at the App Store.

Google Has No Voice at the App Store

It is easy to see why AT&T is widely suspected of being the power behind the throne in reaching this particular decision. Google Voice lets users send free text messages and make domestic phone calls for free, and it provides low-rate pricing for international calls.

"Of course AT&T was behind this decision -- the application competes with it in almost every category," Rob Walch, host of Today in iPhone, told MacNewsWorld.

The free text messaging alone practically guarantees "there was push back from AT&T and likely other carriers as well," he said, including possible future partners for the iPhone.

Fear of Posting?

Apple and AT&T did not respond to the E-Commerce Times' request for comment in time for publication.

Google spokesperson Sara Jew-Lim confirmed the app's rejection in a statement emailed to the E-Commerce Times.

Google Voice developer Sean Kovacs advanced his own suspicions about the reasoning in his blog.

"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)," Kovacs wrote.

"He didn't actually specify which features, although I assume the whole app in general. He wouldn't send a confirmation email either -- too scared I would post it."

Similar Functionality

Apple is certainly within its rights to reject an application because of duplicative functionality, Walch said. "Almost every feature in Google Voice can be found on the iPhone, either as part of the phone itself or as another third-party app."

Cost to the consumer -- or lack thereof rather -- is not relevant to Apple's decision-making, he said.

Nor does the move doom Google Voice to oblivion. A Google Voice mobile app for BlackBerry and Android was released earlier this month; it is also available as a Web application.

Political Process

That said, many consumers are irate over the decision and the perceived reasons for it -- and many are perturbed by Apple's worrisome trajectory on such decisions.

"The process of deciding which apps to accept for the App Store is becoming viewed as political," Walch said. "How else can you explain Apple approving games [where the players] kill off classmates, but [not approving] something like GV Mobile?"

What's more, Google appears to be the specific target of such strategic rejection, added Walch. The rejection of Google Voice follows a similar thumbs down for Google Latitude for the App store.

Mat Balez, product manager of the Google Mobile Team, alluded to Apple's decision in a blog post.

"We worked closely with Apple to bring Latitude to the iPhone in a way Apple thought would be best for iPhone users," wrote Balez. "After we developed a Latitude application for the iPhone, Apple requested we release Latitude as a web application in order to avoid confusion with Maps on the iPhone, which uses Google to serve maps tiles."


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Digital River - Talk to the Experts
Contact Center AI Explained by Pop Culture