Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Google Voice story: It was Apple, not AT&T

As all true geeks know, a few weeks ago Apple purged the iPhone app catalog of all Google Voice apps, including GV Mobile. Apple then rejected a pending application from Google for their Google Voice app.

Geeks know this is big. Google Voice (it's available in the US, just go to the linked page and request a number) is fabulous tech. I've been a regular user for over a year, enjoying my 1 cent/min good quality cell phone calls to Canada (as of a week ago, free). When my family travels our cell phones forward to Google Voice so we get voice mail messages emailed to us -- along with quite good transcriptions. It doesn't need a dedicated app to work, but a good iPhone app would take it up another notch.

It's one thing for Apple to reject crappy stuff like Flash from the iPhone, but rejecting high value innovation is an injury to the geek soul.

Happily, the FCC then piled on Apple and demanded an explanation.

So, in record time, we have Apple's letter to the FCC, dissected by Gruber (who apologizes for blaming AT&T), Arrington (he's bested Gruber on this one - that's gotta sting), Mike Ash, and a zillion others.

Basically, Apple dodges, twists, hurls, whines, and, basically, lies big time - except when they admit full responsibility and absolve AT&T of all sins.

Besides generating a rich stream of bs, Apple also surrenders. As just about every blogger notes, one of Apple's whoppers is that they haven't really "rejected" Google Voice (or the other apps they removed from the app store?!), they're just "under review".

Which means Google can make some face saving changes and Apple will cave. I'm hoping to be using my iPhone Google Voice app within a month.

I thought Arrington had the best analysis. A heck of a lot of the iPhone's value is now tied to Google -- and Google Voice just hammers that home. Apple can't compete in the Cloud -- as we can gather from watching MobileMe twist in the wind.

I'm happy to see that a few bloggers have noticed that while AT&T played no role in this decision, there are AT&T rules blocking VOIP products that seem to apply to the entire world -- not just AT&T's turf. (If only AT&T had anticipated Google Voice they'd have banned that class of service as well. I wonder if they've fired anyone for missing that angle.)

Incidentally, the AT&T response to the FCC is interesting -- they're asking how Google is able to dodge various mandates applied to phone companies. This is how the big gun lawyers earn their yachts.

No comments: