When Google Voice was banished from the iPhone, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission launched an investigation of Google, Apple, and AT&T, seeking more details to determine if something improper was taking place. AT&T quickly pointed the finger at Apple, saying it played no part in the rejection.
Now Apple has issued its own response and it appears it is indeed claiming responsibility for the rejection. Apple in the statement says that it does not think of the app as rejected, but rather considers it under “study”. Apple states that the application alters “the iPhone’s distinctive user experience” and that it “disables Apple’s Visual Voicemail”. Apple is also unhappy that the app syncs the iPhone’s contacts with Google contacts, despite the fact that Apple’s Mac computers already can do this.
In its statement Apple expresses fears that its users wouldn’t be able to understand Google Voice or use it properly, as it replaces frequently used elements of the iPhone interface. It indicates that concerns over confusing users or depriving them of functionality were driving reasons for not approving the application.
One significant comment which Apple makes is that it would welcome a Google Voice web application. Google is reportedly tailoring just such a web application at this time, which would provide identical functionality to the rejected app.
Interestingly, while it backed up AT&T’s story on the GV rejection, Apple contradicted AT&T’s claim that AT&T never played a part in rejecting apps. It says that it rejected the SlingPlayer app initially, “because redirecting a TV signal to an iPhone using AT&T’s cellular network is prohibited by AT&T’s customer Terms of Service.”
Also interesting is the inside peek at the app store’s approval team given in the statement. Apparently there’s 40 full-time trained iPhone app reviewers working on the team and they review over 8,500 apps a week. Apple claims only 20 percent of apps are not approved as originally submitted (this may include delays, though, such as qualifying the app as adult under the parental controls).
Google was remarkably quiet in its own response. It said little of interest, except for claiming that it did not police its Android marketplace (contradictory to reports). Perhaps there was some more interesting content, but much of its statement was redacted.
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