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Summary:

Google today made public the redacted parts of its  letter addressed to the Federal Communications Commission written after Apple had rejected the Google Voice application from the iPhone. The redacted portion of the filing shows that Apple did reject Google Voice and Google Latitude, a location-aware […]

apps-final-21Google today made public the redacted parts of its  letter addressed to the Federal Communications Commission written after Apple had rejected the Google Voice application from the iPhone. The redacted portion of the filing shows that Apple did reject Google Voice and Google Latitude, a location-aware application, mostly because they were better than, or performed the same functions as, the iPhone maker’s pre-loaded software. In its filing, Apple told the FCC that it hadn’t rejected the Voice app, it was only studying it.  But this little contradiction shows how in the world of Apple, no one shall sit higher than the king. From the letter:

Apple’s representatives informed Google that the Google Latitude application was rejected because Apple believed the application has the potential to: i) replace the preloaded maps application, (ii) create user confusion since the preloaded maps application on the iPhone is a version of Google Maps, and (iii) offer new features not present on the preloaded maps application (which might also contribute to the user confusion referenced above). The Apple representative indicated that the company did not want applications that could potentially replace such functionality and potentially create user confusion.

While this is a bum deal for Google (although the subsequent publicity around Apple saying one thing to the FCC and telling Google something else may benefit the search firm), Apple doesn’t have to let others play in its playground, and I’m unclear as to what the FCC can do even if it wants to force the company to open up its device. Om has argued that this fight shows how Google and Apple are increasingly encroaching on each other’s turf, especially when it comes to delivering a mobile web experience. And when giants fight, it’s the little people who get crushed.

  1. im so torn.

    while i dont appreciate or agree with Apple’s practices lately (the last year) and having been a devout fanboy for a decade, I continue to lose trust in them as this story unfolds…

    i just can’t part with my iPhone yet but you can be sure I’ll be hackintoshing more in the future…..

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  2. Om was also dead on that none of this was AT&T’s doing. Not that AT&T might not have nixed the app anyway, but they never got the chance. As a potential buyer of the iPhone (I can’t get one on a subsidy until January) the fact that Apple will reject applications because they make the phone more useful doesn’t fill me with joy. You don’t want to cause “confusion” (love that choice of words) – make your apps better.

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    1. “…Om was also dead on that none of this was AT&T’s doing”

      Not so fast Mr. Fitts! There are still a bunch of redacted documents that need to be released!

      Let us not forget the still questions about why text messages are $1,300.00 a megabyte, never answered by AT&T:

      http://government.zdnet.com/?p=3991

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      1. I’m not sure how the pricing model fro text messages (which I would agree is ridiculous) has any bearing on the application approval process for the iPhone, so maybe you can clarify that for me.

        Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of AT&T (just a customer unfortunately), I just don’t see how AT&T can be blamed for something they clearly did not have direct involvement in.

        This one is on Apple and even their fanboi’s are going to have a hard time avoiding that basic fact. Apple has the right to apply any process they want to the way applications are approved, they just have to man up and take responsibility when consumers don’t like the results.

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      2. @ Sean Fitts below -

        Google Voice app supports free and unlimited text messages to any cell phone numbers in the US (and also Canada, I think).

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  3. The language sounds similar to my communications for embedding music in applications. Apple stated that it was confusing to users, and was redundant to iTunes. Apple probably sat on the application for a time, and Google had the pull to get a response, so this would explain some of the discussions perhaps not being on record. But, Apple would have either accepted or rejected the apps, and given that similar Voice apps were pulled, they must have rejected the app.

    Frankly, nobody believed Apple after the many recent app rejections. The patterns are clear, and hopefully the FCC will begin to treat mobile as being similar to computing. This will be a very good thing!

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    1. And yet they recently approved Spotify, an application which clearly duplicates what iTunes does. So that argument really doesn’t make a lot of sense.

      Again, their sandbox, their toys, their rules (or lack thereof) – as a consumer what I want is transparency so I can make an informed buying decision.

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      1. Yes, they are recently approving many types of apps. Call me a cynic.

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      2. Yes, but as a ‘sometimes’ developer, what this group ALSO wants is transparency, so they can make informed development decisions.

        It may be Apple’s sandbox, but capricious and whimsical approval processes don’t encourage innovative apps.

        The small amount of apps they block isn’t enough to stem the flow of new apps, but it is a frustration and friction. It will shift some developers to other platforms. What will be the effect if Apple rejects all apps that:
        - lower the phone bill of the user?
        - are better than bundled iPhone apps?

        Well, those apps will end up on WinMo, RIM, and Android, making those platforms more attractive to users. Apple will acquiesce, and become more open. Why not just get ahead of the curve and open up now?

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  4. “create user confusion”

    as in:
    ‘Why did I buy this POS… why do I pay this monthly fee ?’

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  5. What about TomTom? What about Navigon? Don’t those replicate the map functionality? Won’t that confuse users?
    I own an iPhone but this really leaves a bitter taste as a consumer. Unfortunately Apple is under no obligation to allow any application on it’s device but the reasoning behind the rejections are inconsistent. The iPhone is a mobile computing platform. Imagine if they pulled this in the desktop environment… no Microsoft Office or Open Office or Firefox or Photoshop on your shiny new Macbook. Really starting to feel like the “old” Microsoft. Fortunately for Apple, they currently have what many in the general public see as the best smartphone out there. I’m beginning to wish I’d waited for the next-gen Android phones.

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    1. Apple is not remotely like the old Microsoft. Making such a statement shows you have no idea, no idea at all how far Microsoft went. I suggest you look it up. Also you are assuming Googles statements are accurate and Apple is lying. Apple has denied Googles statements. Google is not the fluffy consumer orientated company you seem to think they are.

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      1. Nor is Apple. There isn’t a lot of childlike wonder here, just basic, bare knuckles competition. Should be fun ;).

        As for the probability that Google is lying in their submission to the FCC. I’d peg that as pretty low. What’s the upside? What they say is pretty straight forward and easily verifiable – not much point in risking a major FCC beat down by lying.

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      2. So how is APPLE looking like ? the old IBM ?

        So APPLE is not Microsoft ? but IBM . But IBM is not Microsoft ? but APPLE? Which is Microsoft is more like IBM ?

        Wow that’s confusing to me I am sure it will cause confusion to all.

        I order everyone here to stop using APPLE products till this confusion will get
        confused and confuse everyone before confused by itself leading to confusion in customers resulting in confused sales of APPLE numbers ending with a CONFUSION !!!!!!!!

        Now I am confused about the difference between iPhone and iPod Touch.

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  6. Microsoft is loving Apple and Google fighting each other. Apple denies Googles statement btw.

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  7. “Apple Rejected Google Apps Because They Were Better”

    This title is the type of sensationalistic trolling for page views that is so typical these days. Neither Google nor Apple made such a claim. Nor would they.

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    1. It may be that neither Google, nor Apple would make such a claim – but the claim they are making is bizarre: “We are rejecting Google Latitude (a non-core, user selected application if installed) because of possible overlap/additional features with Google Maps (which we have installed on iPhone from the beginning)”.

      If Apple is worried about polluting their pristine, non-overlapping user experience on the iPhone, surely a huge swath of those 50,000 applications they brag about in iTunes would do also do so. The comparison to desktops above is a good one — “Sorry, Chrome, Firefox, and IE could potentially create confusion — you may only use Safari on your Macbook”

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  8. Stacy,
    While Apples complaint to Google that it may cause “user confusion” is an interesting topic to discuss I see no evidence that it was because Google apps were better-this is per baloney Stacy! It says nothing like that in the redacted part.

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    1. Stacey Higginbotham Friday, September 18, 2009

      Chris, I posted the exact Google language in the post to give you the context for the headline. However, I argue that the reasons given by Apple are a veiled way of saying that the Google app is better. Saying it had more features and a similar functionality to the preloaded app and might confuse users is generally a defense against a better product. When a product confuses users and it also crappy or harms them, the objecting company usually says exactly that.

      But since you have the full filing, as well as the quote, I gave you the tools to draw your own conclusions. Which you have :)

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      1. Not to take Apple’s side of this, and while I tend to believe Google’s account as the logical one, Google has not provided proof of anything here. All we have is a back and forth, no?

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      2. I agree there is little proof in all of this. I do suppose that we will see records of the exchanges however. As I stated earlier, the language sounds similar to Apple’s rejecting/postponing of applications in the process.

        I am happy that the regulators are looking at the space, and I hope that they soon begin to look at the carriers as well. This stuff needs to be relatively open, and has sadly not been.

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      3. Stacey, for what it’s worth, I interpreted your headline as an editorial statement on your part, and I’m fine with you stating it. Even if Apple didn’t explicitly or implicitly make such a statement, their competition-limiting actions certainly raise the possibility that they’re afraid of Google competition.

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      4. I think the proof is in the: Apple and Google continue to talk. (People forget there is the web app.) Google could agree to scale back the app and have it published. (People have already set this up as Apple capitulating — not winning the negotiations.) Apple could even build it in with Google as a core app/option first before allowing Google to have their own standalone and an API (which remains undocumented because Google isn’t sure what they own yet — I presume as much as anyone presumes evil). I hope we see an API. I think it’s too early to be hysterical about very transformative and rapidly evolving technology and business.

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  9. APPLE to Google
    This will confuse all the customers.

    FCC to GOOGLE ,
    Someone please explain I AM CONFUSED.

    Google to FCC
    APPLE said the APP will confuse customers.

    Morale of the story ,

    APPLE thinks ITS CUSTOMERS CAN BE EASILY CONFUSED.

    Next APPLE Event
    Steve Jobs
    “And one more thing , we are Introducing a new feature , CONFUCIUS ,
    which will take care of the your confusion between choosing the right installed app that does
    the same thing.
    When you have two or more apps doing the same thing TAP the CONFUCIUS , from the GENIUS APP.
    Then shake it up down , left right , the CONFUGENIUS will pick the right one for you.
    Isn’t it COOL ? “

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  10. or wait

    Phill Schiller is confused ?

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