Apple Faces a Dilemma
At this point, which avenue it will take is in doubt. Will Apple make itself look worse by denouncing the online app? If it does, it puts itself in a dangerous position. Apple has no leverage when it comes to online apps. If an iPhone owner attempts to access an app through their Safari browser, there should be no problem with that. Sure, it might be optimized to work with the iPhone, but since it's not being offered in Apple's store, Apple has no basis for judgment. Realizing that, the worst mistake Apple could make is condemn the Google Voice app. It would make the company look petty. It would make it seem like it's trying to bully developers, rather than help them get their software in the hands of millions. Worst of all, it would ignite another controversy, putting Apple's bullying back in front of the millions of people who read blogs to find out what's going on in the world. That's something Apple doesn't need.
What it does need is to get back in the good graces of those who were upset with its decision to reject the Google Voice app. At this point, it only really has two options: go back and allow the original Google Voice app or welcome the online version.
The first option won't happen. If Apple goes back and allows the Google Voice app into its App Store, it will be faced with countless complaints from other developers that were snubbed. Worse, it sets a precedent that if Apple faces enough pressure, it will back down. That's a luxury Apple can't afford to give up. It has made billions of dollars by not backing down. Should a Google Voice app put that into jeopardy? I don't think so.
That's precisely why Apple needs to welcome the online Google Voice app with open arms. True, because it's online, it doesn't necessarily need to say anything, but in reality, Apple does need to say something. It needs to quell the unrest. It needs to show that it's not draconian in everything it does. Most importantly, it needs to show, by welcoming the Google Voice online app, that it realizes it made a mistake and it's sorry for it. It doesn't necessarily have to say that it's sorry, but by acknowledging Google's app, I think its actions will indicate that.
So what does Apple gain by doing that? First off, it gets the blogosphere off its back. It will be commended. All will be well in Apple land. Apple will then be able to get back to what it does best: blocking apps for, what some developers say, no good reason. Only with those cases, small developers are creating those apps, so no one realizes or cares.
Apple doesn't need to change anything in its strategy in the App Store. It just needs to make a public event out of accepting some blame for the Google Voice fiasco.
Is that so hard?