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Apple Rejected Google Apps Because They Were Better

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apps-final-21Google (s goog) today made public the redacted parts of its  letter addressed to the Federal Communications Commission written after Apple (s aapl) 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.

41 Responses to “Apple Rejected Google Apps Because They Were Better”

    • Maps and Latitude are both maps. That’s already confusing. Add in Latitudes ability to track your contacts and your location, and that Google may or may not “own” your data. That seems fine enough to me. It is available as a web site. Both apps are very difficult and complex issues. This discussion contains far too much simplifying.

      • But Apple itself has added Google Map views (and annotation ability for them) right into the OS specifically for developers to use within their apps. What are they supposed to do with this mapping ability we have been given, if not show maps and put markers for people and places on them?

  1. Sam D. Park

    First I will say that I have and use a Mac and a PC, a Google Apps account, Microsoft Exchange account, and even a MobileMe account. Therefore, I don’t consider myself partial to any of them.

    Ok, Yes, Apple does think all of their customers are easily confused. If we were not, why else would we pay Apple for such highly overpriced products.

    Next, has anyone ever heard of RingCentral and the AT&T Virtual Receptionist apps, both free to download from the apps store. They offer all of the same features of Google Voice, except for the transcribing feature. Both have been approved by Apple for a long time.

    I know that for many of you who have been supporting, defending, justifying, and funding Apple for many years, this may be hard to swallow, but Apple is anything but innocent. Everyone loves to say that Gates stole Jobs ideas (or some story along those lines) but if you do some research, Jobs actually stole those same ideas from Xerox. Gates was just a better business man and got away with more than he should have for way too long. As you can see, Apple is just like Microsoft and can and does lie.

    These are many huge companies and it is ignorant on our part to have any personal devotion to them. They don’t care about you, just your money.

    Sorry, I got sidetracked. It is obvious that Apple verbally rejected the app (I am sure Google used Google Voice to record the conversation) . Apple is trying to Bill Clinton this and say they never rejected the app because they never sent a formal letter to Google stating the exact words. Apple is just trying to avoid the FCC in anyway possible, as they should.

    Oh yea, stop complaining about AT&T. Their rates are the same and some better than all of the major carriers. And for you diehard Apple lovers and AT&T haters, AT&T developed Unix, which is where OS X came from, so you owe AT&T big time and if you love your mac, cut them some slack while you are on the phone with them getting them to correct your bill they screwed up, and make sure to ask for your unhappy customer giftcard ( I just got 2 in the last 2 months).

    All I am saying is open up your eyes and remove your Goggles and iShades, and connect the dots for yourself. You already know who is in the wrong here.


    • Bell Labs developed Unix. Bell Labs was founded by AT&T and Western Electric…and developed Unix.

      Today’s AT&T bears little resemblance in fact or history to the AT&T which participated in founding Bell Labs.

      • Sam D. Park

        Bell Laboratories (also known as Bell Labs and formerly known as AT&T Bell Laboratories and Bell Telephone Laboratories) is the research and development organization of Alcatel-Lucent and previously of the American Telephone & Telegraph Company (AT&T).
        (Source: )

        Unix (officially trademarked as UNIX, sometimes also written as Unix with small caps) is a computer operating system originally developed in 1969 by a group of AT&T employees at Bell Labs, including Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, Brian Kernighan, Douglas McIlroy, and Joe Ossanna. Today’s Unix systems are split into various branches, developed over time by AT&T as well as various commercial vendors and non-profit organizations.
        (Source: )

  2. Wow, talk about all the unnecessary self-induced confusion about this story.

    It’s quite simple:

    1. Apple telling Google that Google Voice hasn’t been approved is interpreted by Google as the same as having had the app rejected.

    2. To Apple, not having approved an app that is still in the review process is not the same as rejecting an app. The former is indeterminate and still in the review chute while the latter is final and completely removed from the review process and internal debate.

    Is everyone so caught up in the own self-generated orgy of personal agenda about Google Voice that this simple explanation is beyond the imagination of 99% of the people reporting on this story?

    Accusations of LIES! LIES! by Google/Apple are getting so bloody tiring to read about when both the above scenarios can be entirely true and not contradictory.

    • It seems obvious that the headline for this article is both link baiting & also very true. The two need not be mutually exlusive.

      As for Lava’s comment about the nuance of “not approved” versus “rejected” — that’s definitely an attorney minded response & is probably exactly how Apple parses it.

      But think — Apple didn’t approve Google’s application in this instance & gave them reasons — it has better feautures. These same features that are intrinsic to the application & available on all competing smartphones.

      If Google rewrote & resubmitted to remove all their application’s major features, it wouldn’t be the same application on all platforms. It would be a hobbled, lesser application.

      By making the acceptance contingent upon Google making it into another application with the same name is just a round-about way of rejecting the application.

      I’m curious what Google’s terms are for the iPhone Maps application & if when they’re up for renewal. They could rewrite their Google maps web-side to be incompatible or hobbled on the iPhone so there wouldn’t be any “confusion.”

      • Apple would partner with Microsoft or AOL/MapQuest for the fun of it, and make Google look like the monopolist. Am I the only one that heard Steve say they wouldn’t permit some apps that competed with core functions? I’ve always understand the “rejection” to be conditional based on it being “too good” at competing with “core functions.” I still don’t see or understand the “underhandedness” of Apple — they always said how they were going to run the show, and it’s a hell of a show.

  3. Apple is afrade of Google voice. So far it can only be used over WiFi but what if it could over the cellphone towers? It found this too scary so it blocked it. Is this bad? You choose.

  4. While I applaud Apple for maintaining some level of quality and standard implementation in apps for the iPhone, their rejection of competitive apps like Google Voice seems not on inappropriate but brushing up against anti-competitive issues. We’ll see how far Google ultimately pushes the issue, but they aren’t some small iPhone app developer Apple can easily get away with such behavior. My guess is they will come to some agreement rather than legal action (if that’s a legitimate option).

  5. “The Apple representative indicated that the company did not want applications that could potentially replace such functionality and potentially create user confusion.”

    Funny, how come they don’t feel the same way about the hundreds of weather apps out there that are FAR superior to the preloaded weather app. Or hundreds of stock apps, or the camera apps, or the….oh why am I even bothering.

  6. 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 ,


    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 ? “

  7. Chris Higgins

    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.

    • Stacey Higginbotham

      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 :)

      • Dan Gillmor

        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?

      • 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.

      • 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.

      • 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.

  8. “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.

    • 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”

  9. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

      • 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.

  10. 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!

    • 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.

      • 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?

  11. 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.

      • 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.

  12. 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…..