Blog Post

Updated: Google Releases The Confidential FCC Letter About Apple’s Rejection Of Google Voice

Google (NSDQ: GOOG) has made its letter to the FCC public, which for the first time reveals its interactions with Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) over the rejection of the Google Voice application. Since Google submitted the letter on Aug. 21, much of the contents were redacted and held confidential. Google writes in its public policy blog today that following requests for the information, under the Freedom of Information Act, and the fact that Apple made its comments public, it is no longer holding the contents of the letter confidential.

So, here’s the explanation we’ve been waiting for, or at least Google’s side to the long drawn-out saga as to why its Voice application, which allows people to make phone calls over the data connection, was denied. In response to the official FCC inquiry on the matter, Google writes that Apple said that its Google Voice app was rejected because it duplicated core functionalities on the iPhone. In addition, its Google Latitude app was also rejected because it duplicates functionalities in the core map application (made by Google). “Apple’s representatives informed Google that the Google Voice application was rejected because Apple believed the application duplicated the core dialer functionality of the iPhone. The Apple representatives indicated that the company did not want applications that could potentially replace such functionality.” UDPATE: After many interpreted this as Apple lying, Apple released this statement to the press today: “We do not agree with all of the statements made by Google in their FCC letter. Apple has not rejected the Google Voice application and we continue to discuss it with Google.”

The controversy of the rejection mostly swirls around the question as to who was responsible for the rejection, Apple or AT&T (NYSE: T) (which was rumored to be concerned about maintaining its core voice business). But after all three parties responded to the FCC, it was clear the decision was Apple’s. In a short statement, AT&T said it had nothing to do with the application’s rejection, and in a lengthy letter, Apple confirmed it acted alone.

The one piece of this puzzle, which doesn’t fit, is that Apple claims it technically is still reviewing the app and hasn’t rejected it yet. In Apple’s statement, the company writes that

3 Responses to “Updated: Google Releases The Confidential FCC Letter About Apple’s Rejection Of Google Voice”

  1. I know, I know, Apple is not providing an open platform. Some points to consider…

    – The iPhone is not an open development environment; people may want it to be one, but it was never promised that it would be. Why doesn't the FCC spend its time going after AT&T, Verizon, US Cellular, Sprint, etc. who have been squeezing and limiting developers (and limiting innovation) for years. Ever try to get an app on Verizon as an unknown third party? Good luck.

    – The government does not come in and tell WalMart that it needs to sell products branded by Target or offer coupons for Target stores. Why should they be able to tell Apple what applications it can sell in iTunes.

    – Google's interest in the voice app is not benign. Google's Android (and yes Google is in complete control of that O/S) is set up to be the biggest competition for iPhone. Does anyone really think that Google is not trying to take over the iPhone interface to get users more used to a Google/Android experience? Come on. Oh, and, by the way, do you really want Google tracking people's dialing patterns for better advertising?

    – As a developer, it has always been made clear by Apple that they would not accept apps that duplicated the core functionality of the iPhone. Why should Google get special treatment – because they are big bullies?

    – Apple is the most open revenue opportunity for mobile developers, well, ever. Where else can a developer go and have a pretty good shot and getting their apps offered and sold.

    Bottom line is the FCC should get out on this one. There have been far bigger abuses in the mobile content space for the last 10 years. Would have been nice if you had done something when certain record labels pushed out numerous players from the ringtone business (not to mention price fixing) or carriers explicitly limited and even reduced the number of app and content vendors allowed in their stores. I know the headlines are good, but protecting Google should not be one of your priorities.

  2. Tricia Duryee

    @doax: Apple just released a statement to the press. Clearly, they did not like people thinking they were lying. Here's what they had to say: “We do not agree with all of the statements made by Google in their FCC letter. Apple has not rejected the Google Voice application and we continue to discuss it with Google.”

    There's always gray areas when conducting business, but it will be interesting to hear the explanation for how Google believes its app was rejected (and for all practical purposes it was since it is not in the store), and why Apple is taking so long to review it.

  3. So schiller is lying about google voice being rejected? I'm shocked an appalled sir. Actually I'm not. Their public perception is what apple protects most. I'm surprised they don't make you sign a waiver or non-disclosure agreement just to put your app in for review. I hope one day the people rise up against apple and stop buying their products.