Apple rejected Google Voice for the iPhone. That’s not what Google says, exactly, except by posting the unredacted response to the FCC on the issue there remains little room for interpretation.
According to Google, none other than Apple Senior VP Phil Schiller told Google Senior VP Alan Eustace “that Apple was rejecting the Google Voice application.” The main reason for rejection was “because Apple believed the application duplicated the core dialing functionality of the iPhone.”
Google claims that the letter (PDF) is being released because of requests through the Freedom of Information Act, and because Apple released the full contents of its own response to the FCC.
Apple representative Steve Dowling immediately fired back, stating that Apple “did not agree with all of the statements made by Google in its letter. Apple has not rejected the Google Voice application. We continue to discuss it with Google.”
That “not rejected” assertion refers to the limbo-like status Google Voice has been in for months. That status was also referenced in Apple’s response to the FCC. In that nuanced letter, Apple voiced concern over the application because it appeared “to alter the iPhone’s distinctive user experience,” arguing that “Apple spent a lot of time and effort developing this distinct and innovative way to seamlessly deliver core functionality of the iPhone.”
Google Voice does change that experience in fundamental ways. It effectively shuts down Visual Voicemail by routing calls through Google Voice, replaces Apple’s text messaging, and moves contacts to Google’s servers. But is that what’s really bothering Apple? Om Malik offered another opinion way back when people were blaming AT&T for the not-rejection of Google Voice.
This battle between Google and Apple is going to get very ugly — as it should. Both companies have pinned their futures on smartphones.
This is a war Apple has fought before. The Mac lost the desktop wars to Windows because Apple did not defend its “experience” sufficiently. Protestations about the user interface aside, Apple is not about to make the same mistake with the future of mobile computing.