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Aug 16

FCC Investigates Apple and AT&T for Google Voice App Rejection from Apple's App Store


According to Bernstein Research analyst Toni Sacconaghi the Apple iPhone has captured 31.8% of the mobile industry profit for the first half of the year and is responsible for 83.5% of Apple's profits. Introduced just over two years ago no one can downplay the success of this device, which has changed the mobile phone market forever and forced incumbents like Samsung, LG, Nokia and RIM to take notice.

From the consumer's perspective probably the two biggest strengths of the iPhone are its web browsing capabilities and the Apple App store, which at last count has over 65,000 applications and generates over $1 billion annually. The App store has made developers like Steve Demeter, author of Trism, extremely wealthy by giving them the freedom to focus on their application while leave the marketing, distribution and e-commerce to Apple. However, the glow around Apple seems to be fading with a recent series of lawsuits, boycotts and now an FCC investigation over Apple's rejection on July 27, 2009 of the Google Voice application and the removal of all Google Voice-enabled applications from the App Store. What, if anything, the FCC suspects is not immediately evident, but one possibility could be whether or not AT&T asked Apple to remove the Google Voice application to prevent competition with its long distance and SMS services.

Government involvement is never welcomed by private enterprises, however, sometimes government intervention is the last resort if anti-competitive practices and collusion are present, not implying in any way that they are here. A ray of light through all of this has been that these anti-Apple sentiments are not falling on deaf ears — Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, Phil Schiller has personally responded to several developers in the last week about their concerns and issues with Apple's App Store approval process, responding in summary with “they are listening to the feedback and are taking it all in as they continue to evolve the App Store.”

IVR Technologies, has developed an iPhone application entitled iCallme:

that offers a fully integrated callback dialer for Talking SIP to the iPhone/iTouch platform that we have submitted to Apple for approval. While we are restricted by legal agreement on commenting on our personal experience, suffice it to say any changes to the App Store approval process that adds clarity, fairness, transparency and objectivity to the process and is devoid of carrier influence will certainly be welcome.  

One of the strengths of the Apple iPhone is the openness of the platform that allows creative and innovative developers to leverage the device's ubiquity and connectivity to make an amazing device even more amazing. Hopefully, as Apple continues to blaze the trail into unchartered territory, this FCC investigation will result in a more level playing field for all developers across all mobile platforms.