Inevitable: Apple Should Accept Google Voice

It's time for Apple and AT&T to fully consider what is at stake and do the right thing. Give the FCC a win if that's what it takes, but let your customers have Google Voice if they want it--as they obviously do.

The era of total control that Apple and AT&T have enjoyed with the iPhone is over. AT&T has admitted it won't have exclusivity on the iPhone forever and Apple is under increasing federal scrutiny. It's only a matter of time before the Apple anti-trust inquiry begins.

The two companies would vastly improve their standing with their most influential customers by getting Google Voice apps into the App Store as quickly as possible and admitting the error of their ways. It's going to happen regardless at some point, so why not admit defeat while it can still be done gracefully?

For AT&T, this offers some hope that the moment the iPhone is available from another U.S. carrier that customers won't jump ship in large numbers, even if they have to buy new hardware to do it. (I'd imagine Apple would be just fine with that).

I am already making my plans, as are many people I know. Give us Verizon and we're gone. But, an AT&T "charm offensive" could still keep me around if the charm was skillfully applied.

If we leave, we may be gone from iPhone, too. I've had Sprint and liked that relationship more than the one I have with AT&T. I am not falling over myself to run get a Palm Pre today, but Apple and AT&T's customer-hostile policies create quite an opening for the underdog.

If the Palm Pre had a stronger applications library, I might be looking at changing platforms. I hope Palm is listening and will throw its developer program into overdrive and invest some money, if necessary, to get top iPhone apps onto the Pre, ASAP.

And, no, I don't think there is any way that Microsoft benefits from this moment of change, short of buying Palm, as I and others have already suggested. It's also too early for Google's Android phones to make much of a dent, especially as Apple and Google still seem oddly pledged to one another.

But, let me emphasize: Apple and AT&T have already lost big in the court of public opinion and are likely to lose even more if/when the FCC gets really serious. Now is the time for a graceful retreat. Neither company is likely to apologize, but they certainly owe one to their customers.

Industry veteran David Coursey tweets as @techinciter and can be contacted via his Web site.

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