Apple Denies Rejecting Google Voice for iPhone
In responses to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) inquiries about Google Voice, Apple Friday denied that it has rejected the application, AT&T said it played no part in Apple's iPhone application review process, and Google asked the agency to redact its answer about Google Voice's App Store status.
One media watchdog group welcomed the FCC's demand for answers, and said that the replies from Apple and AT&T prove that the two collude in determining which applications make it into the App Store.
"The FCC's inquiry into Google Voice has ripped back the curtain on the wireless market and revealed AT&T's secret veto power over applications on the iPhone that offer consumers voice services over the Internet," said Ben Scott, the policy director of Washington D.C.-based Free Press, in a statement Friday. "AT&T has been caught with its hand in the Apple jar."
Apple, however, told the FCC that it hasn't denied Google's submission to the App Store.
"Contrary to published reports, Apple has not rejected the Google Voice application, and continues to study it," Apple said in its letter to the FCC, which Apple posted in its entirety on its Web site. "The application has not been approved because, as submitted for review, it appears to alter the iPhone's distinctive user experience by replacing the iPhone's core mobile telephone functionality and Apple user interface with its own user interface for telephone calls, text messaging and voicemail."
Three weeks ago, the FCC launched an inquiry into reports that Apple had rejected Google Voice for the iPhone, and that the company had also removed similar software that had previously been approved for the App Store.
As part of that investigation, the FCC sent letters to all three companies involved: Apple, Google, and AT&T, which is the exclusive mobile carrier for the iPhone in the U.S. In those letters, the FCC asked the firms to explain their actions, and in particular asked Apple and AT&T whether they collaborated -- and if so, how -- in the App Store review process.
The FCC had not posted the replies from AT&T and Google on its document database as of Friday night, but Engadget obtained copies, and published them online.
For its part, AT&T denied that it had a hand in the Google Voice decision. "AT&T has no role in Apple's consideration of Google Voice or related applications," said AT&T in its response today. In the past, AT&T has also denied involvement in the App Store approval process.
AT&T, however admitted that it has talked to Apple at times about specific iPhone applications, which in some cases were later revised before being accepted. "AT&T has had general discussions with Apple about optimizing the technical criteria that Apple uses to evaluate iPhone applications in order to minimize congestion on our wireless network," the carrier said.
AT&T spelled out several examples, including the music-streaming Pandora application and a live-streaming application from MobiTV and CBS, that were the subject of discussions between it and Apple.
The FCC also sent Google a letter on July 31, asking it to provide Apple's reason for Google Voice's reported rejection, and to describe any communication between Google and AT&T or Apple. However, Google asked for, and was granted, confidentiality by the FCC; its response to that question was completely redacted in the version of the document made public today.