Google Voice Ban by Apple, ATandT Spurs Revolt Among iPhone Users

The decision by Apple and AT&T to boot Google Voice and third-party Google Voice applications from Apple's App Store and iPhone is causing plenty of civil unrest. iPhone users such as Michael Arrington and Steven Frank vow to leave their iPhones behind for the Google Android-based T-Mobile myTouch 3G and the Palm Pre, respectively. Should Apple and AT&T let Google Voice back in? What side of the fence are you on?

It remains to be seen whether Apple and AT&T will rue the day they decided to punt phone management application Google Voice and Google Voice third-party applications from Apple's App Store, which hosts more than 65,000 applications for Apple's smash-hit iPhone smartphone.

No one is quite sure whether to blame Apple or AT&T for the systematic shunning of Google Voice, GV Mobile and VoiceCentral. That's because Apple declines to comment and AT&T tells journalists and bloggers to talk to Apple.

Good luck. If this exchange between Kevin Duerr, founder and president of Riverturn's VoiceCentral, and an Apple App Store spokesperson is any indication, Apple is reinforcing its reputation as a master of stonewalling, cold front tactics.

The antagonist is Apple, AT&T or both vendors, which together have sold millions of iPhones. Why all the fuss?

Google Voice, which funnels phone calls to users' home, work and office phones through one number, and its relatives hit a little close to Apple's iPhone because they duplicate some features, such as SMS and Dialer. However, such apps also ding carriers. Google Voice allows free SMS and cheap international calls, and in the near future it will provide number portability so users' numbers aren't tethered to specific devices.

With all of this in the background, some luminaries in high tech are beginning to revolt. TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington announced July 30 that he is putting down his iPhone and using his T-Mobile myTouch 3G, based on Google's Android mobile operating system.

What does this mean? In an irony fitting the growing competition between Google and Apple, while Apple may have successfully shut out Google Voice, its action has forced Arrington to switch to another product of Google's design that competes with the iPhone. Om Malik characterizes this rivalry as a "corporate poker game."

Arrington is not alone. Steven Frank, a programmer for Apple's Macintosh, is leaving his iPhone behind in favor of a Palm Pre. Frank co-founded the OS X development house Panic, maker of the Coda coding application. He doesn't program iPhone apps, but he's no less incensed by Apple's actions than third-party iPhone apps programmers. Frank wrote:

""My position is not that every app should be approved-it's that rejected apps should be rejected for reasons that at the very least make consistent, logical sense, without garbage form-letter rejection notices that explain nothing, and with at least some sort of guidance available to the developer about how to fix the problem instead of meeting them with a brick wall.""

These individuals are tired of the shenanigans they allege Apple and AT&T are playing. eWEEK readers have also spoken out loud and clear.

Some allege Apple and AT&T are colluding to freeze out the competition-Google Voice and its long tail of independent developers trying to make an honest living. Other Apple fans are rushing to the company's defense, calling for Apple to have the right to protect its intellectual property.

Michael A. Jensen wrote:

""How can this not be considered to be anti-trust activity or collusion by Apple and/or AT&T? Microsoft is bashed all the time about IE and Windows being so tightly coupled that it's hard to remove (IE) and install other browsers, etc. and having to open up Windows source (which I'm in favor of) to allow more competition, etc. If this was Microsoft doing this you know the US Government and the EU would be fining them out the wazoo!!!""

Joop deBruin got a little political and personal with Apple CEO Steve Jobs:

""Since the Left turned the Feds on to Microsoft and sucked hundreds of millions from MSFT's research and development and profits, it is time to do the same for Apple. Fair enough? Or because Jobs and wife filled Obama's campaign coffers, Apple is immune? Corrupt administration, corrupt Apple.""

Lee doesn't like this line of thinking and wrote:

""Wow, you guys *must* be from the EU. Do you really want the government to step in and solve all your problems? I'll never understand that mentality. Let me see... it's Apple's iPhone, Apple's App Store, don't you think they have the right to choose what they do with them? If it's the wrong thing to do, then some of the other guys will be right ... the market will speak, and the iPhone will be dead (although I *highly* doubt it).""

Taz agreed, writing:

""Why should Apple or Microsoft or AT&T open up their world to Google? Google certainly isn't giving them a cut of their revenue for their applications. They are all run as business to make a profit. Google has their own agenda and makes tons of money too. If you don't like what Apple does on the iPhone, use your freedom of choice and go buy another of the hundreds of phones out there.""

There are plenty more comments here, most of which decry Apple and AT&T for their actions. Feel free to start a new thread at the end of this article.

Clearly, there is a groundswell of opposition to Apple's stonewalling. If readers speak out enough, Apple and AT&T may be forced to comment for the record, which is what eWEEK desires most.