The most popular device that AT&T is using to connect its wireless data pipe to its customers is the iPhone. Google Voice, with free SMS and free U.S. calls, threatens to eat into this wireless data pipe, which is why Kessler believes AT&T killed Google Voice on the iPhone. "It's inexcusable that new, feature-rich and productive applications like Google Voice are being held back, just to prop up AT&T while we wait for it to transition away from its legacy of voice communications," Kessler said.
Enderle Group analyst Rob Enderle disagreed that AT&T was behind the Google Voice ban.
"I still don't think AT&T pulled the plug because in other countries Apple has not pulled VOIP applications and no one, including AT&T, seems to have much say with regard to Apple's App Store," Enderle told eWEEK. "We also know that Apple regularly cripples or blocks things they think are competitive, and Google seems to have the platform that is currently the most likely to hurt the iPhone."
However, Enderle did agree that AT&T and other carriers are counter-consumer and said he was happy the government is looking into this. "The citizen is overmatched at the moment, and the role of government is to ensure that this doesn't happen," he said.
ISuppli analyst Jagdish Rebello said the Google Voice ban represents an early dust-up in the escalating battle among wireless operators, cell phone makers and content providers over who will control revenue generated by applications and data services. Apple, Google and players such as Nokia, RIM and Microsoft are trying to muscle in on the wireless carriers for a share of the lucrative markets for mobile premium content, service and application.
"Clearly, mobile data revenue is key to the continued health of wireless carriers and the cell phone value chain in the future," Rebello said. "In this battle, ownership of customers and who can monetize data services and applications are up for grabs."
Kessler didn't simply intend to start a war of words with his piece in the Journal. He proposed solutions, including end phone exclusivity; share airwaves; end municipal exclusivity deals for cable companies; and encourage faster and faster data connections to our homes and phones.
No problem, right?
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