Apple rejected the Google mobile software program Google Voice from the iTunes App Store. News of the banned iPhone app comes from the Website TechCrunch which published an article Monday quoting a Google spokesperson that said the Google Voice mobile application was submitted to Apple six weeks ago and was rejected. "Apple did not approve the Google Voice application," the Google spokesperson told TechCrunch. According to the report Apple went one step further and pulled a non-Google iPhone app from iTunes called GV Mobile on the basis of duplicate functionality of the Google Mobile app.
The move stirs the ongoing debate about the openness of the App Store. It also brings into question AT&T's influence on Apple. AT&T has the most to lose if the Google Voice mobile application was available to AT&T customers with iPhones. The Google Voice mobile app would have allowed you to send and receive text messages via your Google Voice phone number via your iPhone - circumventing AT&T text messaging charges.
I've contacted both Apple and Google seeking official comment on this topic. When, and if, either get back to me I'll let you know what they say.
The Google Voice Initiative
Google Voice, formerly known as GrandCentral, is an innovative phone management system that provides a single phone number for all your mobile, work and fixed numbers. Google re-launched the service last month and is now available for U.S. users on an invitation basis.
The Google Voice service acts as a hub for managing voice mail, all your contacts, and making free and low-cost phone calls via land line phones. Here is hands on look at how Google Voice works. The Google Voice mobile app extends those features to smartphones.
What's shocking though in the case of the official Google Voice app getting rejected by Apple, is the presence of Google CEO Eric Schmidt on the Apple board of directors. One would have thought that this sort of presence would grant Google some sort of privileges when it comes to apps for iPhone. However, not even a personal approval by Phil Schiller, Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing, didn't save third party GV Mobile creator Sean Kovacs from getting his app pulled either.
So the problem must come from somewhere else, most likely - as several technology blogs point out - from AT&T. The wireless carrier, Apple's exclusive wireless partner in the U.S., gets the blame for this one. As it was the case with the crippling of SlingPlayer and Skype for iPhone, AT&T seems to be flexing its muscles over which apps Apple should allow in its App Store, of course depending on its business interest. In this case, Google Voice's free SMS service and cheap long-distance calls could have made a dent in the carrier's revenue streams.
Of course, none of this is officially confirmed and both Apple and AT&T are keeping mum on the situation, but from a users' point of view, we are the ones in the loss. Or, in other words, Apple in conjunction with AT&T is curbing innovation of their products/services from third party companies. You might just add this to the other four reasons why iPhone users hate AT&T.