Now that the first layer of dust has settled on responses from Google, Apple and AT&T to the Federal Communications Commission's requests for more information about the Google Voice application ban, we have more questions.
First, should we call the ban a "stay," now that we know Apple technically (wink, wink) did not reject the Google Voice application submitted to the App Store to run on the iPhone?
Second, is Apple baldly lying about the reasons for the Google Voice ban, as TechCrunch's Michael Arrington asserts?
Third, what the hell did Google say to the FCC in response to this question:
We don't know Google's account of why Apple did not embrace Google Voice. Why?! Google blocked it from its public response, requesting confidentiality from the FCC over its talks with Apple.
Why didn't Google just air the dirty laundry? Apple probably asked it to as a courtesy, requesting that it be allowed to provide the explanation, which is detailed in full here. Apple talks about Google Voice features that potentially disrupt the iPhone operating system. This points to Apple's maddening desire for controlling its message.
But wait, you argue, Google and Apple are competing in the mobile operating system space. Why doesn't Google just say screw Apple and let it all hang out? It's quite simple, really: business politics for two vendors who are cooperating even as they compete. Yes, it's coopitition.
We know Google is working on a Google Voice Web app, and we know straight from Apple that it will graciously accept a Web app version of Google Voice.
Google doesn't want to mess up this relationship by airing Apple's reason for "not approving" (not rejecting, of course) the application in the first place. It's just good business; even if Apple rejects Google Voice, Google wants its Google Mobile suite, including search, YouTube, Maps and Latitude, to continue to play on the iPhone.
Bernstein Research's Toni Sacconaghi said there could be as many as 50 million iPhone users by 2011, which means 100 million eyeballs for whom Google may serve search and advertising.
Google would be foolish to give Apple a reason to pick Microsoft's Bing for search, Yahoo Maps or any other non-Google Web service.
This all brings us to Arrington's assertion that Apple is backtracking and that it will soon accept the Google Voice application:
"They have to - any serious investigation into the app by the FCC will show that the complaints around the app are unfounded and that it does none of the things Apple accuses it of doing. So Apple will save face by simply asking Google to ensure that the App doesn't take over native phone, sms and other functions, and doesn't sync the contacts to Google's servers. Google will comply (they already have), and Apple will graciously accept the application."
He's probably right. Google is just playing the waiting game, content to keep as quiet as it can. For Apple, the nightmare is just beginning; the FCC will read posts from Arrington and others and back Apple into a corner.
Ironically, Apple, the paragon of corporate secrecy, is going to be forced to be more public.