Apple in its letter also invited Google to submit Google Voice as a Web application to run on Apple's Safari Web browser, a familiar refrain among the increasingly convergent worlds of Google and Apple, one-time allies against archrival Microsoft. Google has said it is working on such a Web app. Google in July also launched a Web app for its Google Latitude social location service for the iPhone.
AT&T, which did itself no favors by simply telling journalists to talk to Apple about the ban, said it had no role in any decision by Apple to not accept the Google Voice application for inclusion in the Apple App Store.
"AT&T was not asked about the matter by Apple at any time, nor did we offer any view one way or the other," Jim Cicconi, AT&T senior executive vice president, external and legislative affairs, said in a statement. "More broadly, AT&T does not own, operate or control the Apple App Store and is not typically consulted regarding the approval or rejection of applications for the App Store or informed when an application is approved or rejected."
Many suspected AT&T was behind the ban because it feared Google Voice was encroaching on its wireless data service turf. Google Voice lets users send text messages and make international calls for two cents a minute, services that AT&T provides to its customers for healthy fees.
Google answered the FCC's questions, but apart from explaining Google Voice in exhaustive detail, the company requested confidentiality in answering questions about what Apple told Google regarding the ban. Google's hush-hush approach is surprising; telling the media what Apple said to it regarding the ban would increase the pressure on an already harried Apple. Google may be erring on the side of diplomacy as it readies a Web app version of Google Voice for the App Store.
The FCC, which is looking into the issue as part of a broader investigation into practices in the wireless market by carriers (particularly handset exclusivity such as AT&T's deal with the iPhone), said it is reviewing the letters.
Expect the focus to shift squarely on Apple now that it has revealed its intentions regarding Google Voice and shed new light on its App Store practices.
In the meantime, read more about this issue on TechMeme here.