Thursday, July 30, 2009

Apple Crossed The Line With Google Voice Apps And Will Continue To Do So

More and more, I believe Apple's dealings with apps that enable iPhone users to use Google Voice has some things to do with ATT but also something to do with some bad blood created by the threat Android is increasingly becoming to the iPhone and Chome OS' challenge to the status quo in the OS market.

Caught in the middle are developers.

Macworld posted an article about just this matter.  Kevin Duerr in his blog vented his anger over how Apple had treated his app first by pulling it from the app store, then refusing to offer him an explanation for the action, and creating a refund nightmare for him.

And he's right.  The refund was not due to a flaw in the app but Apple's unexplainable reason for pulling it from the app store.  And some users do want their money back since Duerr will no longer be able to provide support and updates.

The app, VoiceCentral had gone on sale in April and it was only when apps for the Blackberries and Android phones became available did Apple started acting this way.  Oh, yeah, Apple also rejected Google's official Google Voice app.

Duerr, like everyone else, believes ATT is to blame here.  ATT simply doesn't have to capacity to handle all the iPhones in the market.  For the most part, I have to agree but Apple cannot be happy with Android and Chrome OS as competition.

I'm sure Apple had a message to send Google as well.  Maybe.  I don't know with any certainty.  There are a lot of theories flying around the Internet.

Apps are either rejected for indecency or for duplicating an existing function on the iPhone.  Frankly, I don't see anything that VoiceCentral or Google Voice app has done to duplicate iPhone functions that existing apps haven't already done.

Let's examine it a bit here with some app examples.

  • Skype.  Okay.  It makes calls over Wi-Fi but it duplicates the iPhone's telephony function.
  • Fring.  Same as Skype.
  • Yahoo Messenger.  AIM.  Other IM applications.  The iPhone doesn't have an IM app but it does have a SMS application.  If users are sending instant messages instead of SMS, when ATT is out of a revenue stream.
Those quickly comes to mind.  But there are others.  Suppose Apple starts streaming music through the iPod.  What happens to all the radio apps?  Right now, everyone is watching one app in particular.

Spotify.  Since it started streaming music to users (including myself), it has been considered as a competitor to iTunes.  Everyone is watching and waiting to see what Apple will do.  Now, some bloggers believe, given the bad press now with GV apps, Apple will think twice about a rejection.  Folks, if you believe that, you don't know Steve Jobs.  

However, for you mobile warriors with a legal background, what do you think?  A few more examples of rejections due to apps duplicating functions on the iPhone, can an anti-trust case be made?

This is not a subject I like writing about but Apple is wrong here.  I had hoped that Apple will evolve more liberally with app store policies over time.  It's been more than a year.  The app store has been wildly successful.  Millions of iPhones sold.  Still, nothing has changed.

Source:  Macworld, Duerr's Blog

Note:  If you want a Spotify account, which I highly recommend, visit Onxo for instructions.  It is not yet widely available.

Another Note:  Jailbreak, jailbreak, jailbreak, baby!

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