After about 18 months’ wait that further divided the formerly close Google and Apple and spawned an FCC investigation, Google Voice is now available for download in Apple’s App Store.
According to the search giant, its iPhone-based Google Voice app allows users to place calls both in the United States and internationally. It also includes free text messaging and voicemail transcription. What’s more, push notifications will be used to alert users to “a new voicemail or text message,” Google reported in a blog post announcing the new application availability.
The appearance of Google Voice in Apple’s App Store is a major victory for Google. Since last year, the search giant and federal investigators have been trying to determine exactly why its program wasn’t allowed in the store in the first place. Google has said that its app was not being allowed access to the marketplace, while Apple has said it never rejected the program, but was evaluating it. In either case, it didn’t make its way to the store until now.
While naturally it couldn’t say so, it’s obvious that Apple was concerned that Google’s Voice Web calling service might take business away from its mobile carrier partner, AT&T. That’s why it literally took a federal investigation to get Apple to finish its “evaluation.” Now the world will see whether or not Google Voice on the iPhone will be a boon to Google and a pain for AT&T. Here’s why it looks like that’s exactly the case.
1. It was a long wait
The long wait to get Google Voice into the App Store should make its entry even sweeter for the search giant. Exactly what happened over the course of the past year-and-a-half is anyone’s guess, since Google, Apple, and AT&T have different stories about what went on. But all that is moot now that it’s available. That’s something Google should be happy about.
2. It’s a numbers game
Google Voice could be integral to the search giant’s mobile strategy going forward-the more people who get their hands on the software now, the better for Google. That’s why the iPhone was so important. If Google Voice was still only available on Android or BlackBerry OS, it wouldn’t have the kind of reach that it does now with Apple’s smartphone. Make no mistake that Google knows full well that Voice can only be successful if enough people can use it.
3. It helps other services
Now that Google Voice has been made available to iPhone customers, it’s quite possible that it could help the company’s other services. By bringing its Voice mobile application to the iPhone, Google is slowly getting people to think about its other products. And although that might not mean folks will only use Google Search or Google Docs, it does mean that they will at least think about using them. The more people that use Google Voice on the iPhone, the more likely they its is that they might opt for one or more of the company’s many other applications.
4. The AT&T consideration
AT&T might have played a key role in Apple’s original decision to not allow Google Voice into the App Store. In fact, speculation abounds that AT&T was quietly pushing Apple to block the app, so it wouldn’t face competition from Google’s service. Apple has said that AT&T didn’t play a role in that, but it hasn’t stopped people from wondering. If AT&T really was upset with Google Voice, bringing the program to the App Store now makes it even sweeter for Google.
The Delay Hurt Apple More than Google
5. It’s a black eye for Apple
All the talk surrounding Apple’s decision to allow the Google Voice app into its mobile marketplace has come from Google’s camp. The reason for that could be quite simple: this is a black eye for Apple. It would have been much easier if Apple allowed the application to be offered in its store last year. Not only would it have avoided a federal investigation, but it would have undoubtedly helped it save face rather than look like the bully. For Google, seeing Apple look like the bully is probably quite appealing, as it continues to face off with the company in the mobile market.
6. It makes Google look like the victim
Over the past year-and-a-half, Google has looked like the victim. As a dominant player in search and one of the most prominent companies in the industry, Google doesn’t play the role of victim very often. But when it does, it can capitalize and make itself look even better. This is one of those cases where it did just that.
7. Perception is everything to Apple
Apple is an interesting company. Above all else, the firm wants to project a certain image that helps define what it’s all about. Perception is simply everything to Apple. Over the past year-and-a-half, Apple hasn’t looked so great on the Google Voice issue. That’s a problem for the company. And it’s something that it’s likely not too happy about today.
8. It makes Google Voice far more relevant
With the help of an iPhone app, Google Voice is far more relevant than it would have been without the app. Although Google was offering a Web-based version of Google Voice for iPhone owners, it didn’t compare with the impact a native application could have. iPhone owners expect to download programs from the App Store and use products in that way; they don’t want to use online apps. With Google’s latest release, its Voice service is now more relevant than ever.
9. It expands its mobile influence
When Google acquired mobile-advertising firm AdMob last year, it was clear that the company believed there was potential to make some serious cash in the mobile market. But it also spoke to Google’s willingness to be a more mobile-focused company-not only with Android, but with all of its mobile products. By offering Google Voice as an iPhone app, the search giant is only furthering its ability to expand its mobile influence. And that is a good thing for Google.
10. The FCC distraction is now gone
When the FCC initially got involved with Apple’s decision to let Google Voice into the App Store, it took much of the focus on the application away from its functionality. Instead, the focus was on the fight between Google and Apple. That was unfortunate. But now all those distractions are gone, and Google can go back to showing value in its product. The company should celebrate that.