Apple Doesn’t Like Google Voice Apps and Removes Them From App Store

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UPDATE: Word later tonight is that Apple is not going to approve the official Google Voice App. Me thinks AT&T should quit spending money on lawyers and start spending some on fixing their network. Then they wouldn’t have to worry about seeing their business model erode right before their eyes.

I wonder what it feels like to wake up in the morning, get ready for work, and say to yourself. “Self. I think today I’m going to make a decision that will by and large tick off the overwhelming majority of my customers, infuriate the developers that are our lifeblood, and generally end the day looking like an idiot?”   Maybe the folks behind Apple’s iPhone App Store and at AT&T know how that feels.

A week or so ago the floodgates opened on the Google Voice beta and folks began to get their Google Voice accounts. Of course iPhone users went scurrying to see if there was an App for that. (Blackberry and Android users already have apps for those platforms.) Turns out there were several solutions. Google has a web app you can use, and is supposedly working on a native app of its own. I wouldn’t count on that now. Two other apps did exist. GV Mobile and VoiceCentral.   According to this article on TechCrunch both have been yanked by Apple, apparently because they “duplicate features that come with the iPhone.” The developer of GV Mobile writes about it here.

I smell AT&T behind this, simply because Google Voice is a big threat. I had downloaded both apps but haven’t really had time to work them out, only giving them a few tries, and I haven’ t made the complete switch to Google Voice yet as I’ve just been too pressed for time to do so. Both apps offer a lot of similarities and a few differences, but unless Apple does its “change our mind” routine here, that won’t matter for folks who haven’t gotten their hands on the App. Besides, I don’t think AT&T will let Apple change course. And I don’t think we’ll get an Amazon-like apology or anything approaching clarity about this either. It will be interesting to see if Apple pulls the “kill switch” on the apps.

While I guess I’ll settle for Google’s mobile web app. But that doesn’t obviate the fact that Apple just can’t seem to get its act together on this stuff or is far too much at the mercy of AT&T.

9 Comments

  1. GoodThings2Life

    07/27/2009 at 6:46 pm

    You know what really bothers me about Apple?

    The fact that years ago they released the first Mac commercial called 1984 criticizing the whole Orwellian control mentality and claiming that they weren’t like that, and yet, here we are 25 years later watching them control every aspect of their business using those tactics.

    And whatever they don’t like… the squash it out of existence, or they criticize it as insignificant.

    Reply

  2. JC

    07/27/2009 at 7:23 pm

    Apple didn’t pull the kill switch on NetShare. (i.e., even though they pulled it off the App Store, they didn’t delete it off any iPhones.) AFAIK, they have never pulled the kill switch. This drastically lowers how interesting I will find any speculation that Apple might.

    Incidentally, as long as we’re propagating data-less conspiracy theories, another possibility is that Google is behind these apps being pulled. They are competition for Google’s own up-coming app after all. (Google works closely enough with Apple to release Latitude as a web app because Apple didn’t want it as a native app. If they’ve announced a native Google Voice app, surely it has gone through at least as much vetting as Latitude had?)

    Reply

  3. Paul Harrigan

    07/27/2009 at 7:25 pm

    I hate saying this, since I just bought a 3Gs a few days ago, but I suspect these app store issues are going to be the downfall of Apple some day. After all, the success of Apple is highly dependent on people feeling good about the company and its products. Most people don’t like being told what they can and cannot do with things bought with their hard-earned money, so apps disappearing and creating “There isn’t an app for that” will become a problem.

    Of course, you may be right that this is the heavy hand of AT&T at work here, in which case Apple would do well to get free of them as quickly as possible.

    Reply

  4. GregC

    07/27/2009 at 7:30 pm

    I’ve become a heavy apple user (for personal use) after over a decade of running a home Microsoft shop. I like their stuff.

    But I find the excuse less than convincing. Google Voice should not simply duplicate features already available on the iPhone. I finally got my Google Voice invitation today and, in spite of what I would consider a bit of clunkiness in the UI, I’ve already adopted it as my primary number. As nearly as I can tell Google didn’t invent anything here, they just made it easier to use SIP as it is meant to used.

    An iPhone IS a computer. I can use a Gizmo SIP client on my Macbook to receive calls to my Google Voice number so why can’t I do the same on my iPhone?

    I smell AT&T here as well …

    Reply

  5. rijc99

    07/27/2009 at 10:03 pm

    How can AT&T be the one here? If you receive a call through Google Voice routed to your iPhone, AT&T charges minutes as usual. If you place a call through GV Mobile, AT&T charges minutes as usual.

    Either way, AT&T gets their minutes.

    Let’s not forget Apple has pulled/blocked apps before. Why is it no one ever points the finger at Apple as being a bad guy. It’s always AT&T made Apple do this or Microsoft did that… But its never Apple.

    It’s Apple’s store, if they want to pull an app, it is their fault. Just like everyone blamed Amazon when they pulled a few books at the request of the copyright holder, Apple should be held to the same standard.

    Reply

  6. JC

    07/28/2009 at 4:27 am

    As I’ve said, there’s a difference between pulling product from the store and forcibly deleting that product from your device. If you truly want to hold Apple to the same standard as Amazon, you must admit that what Amazon did was worse.

    Reply

  7. Sumocat

    07/28/2009 at 5:06 am

    It occurs to me there may be another reason for the pull: Google Voice may become a built-in app. The iPhone already comes preloaded with two Google services, maps and YouTube. Eric Schmidt is one of Apple’s board members, so Google has an advocate on the highest level there to push their agenda forward. If Google really wanted their app in the store, it would be there, but getting it baked in to the iPhone 3.1 OS is also in their power as well.

    Reply

  8. ctitanic

    07/28/2009 at 5:59 am

    I tested it Yesterday in my Android G1 and it works really well. I got an area code number 305, that’s Miami, my area code is 954 (fort lauderdale), in this way people living in Miami do not have to pay anything when they are calling me. Also I place a call from my G1 using the 305 number and it works perfectly, the caller ID shown was the 305.

    Reply

  9. My2cents

    07/28/2009 at 9:00 am

    I just have to say, it could be apple, you have to admit, the warranty, or I should say the non existance of a warranty, sucks! Apple Is the only company I know, that won’t cover there phones for anything other then manufacturer defects!!! I’ve had other phones that were replacable if something wasn’t right but in my experience Apple pointed their finger and did not cover. Don’t get me wrong, I love my phone, just not the warranty coverage for such a delicate phone!!

    Reply

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