FCC investigating Google Voice rejection by Apple and AT&T

The recent rejection of Google Voice from the App Store, by Apple, was rather controversial. Even die-hard Apple fans seem to be outraged by it, and many suspect that AT&T is behind it. It wasn't particularly explained as to why the application was rejected, but a Google spokesperson simply said that it wasn't approved. It seems consumers aren't the only ones a bit troubled by this; according to Wired, the FCC is now getting involved, and has sent letters to both Apple and AT&T (and even Google, to get their explanation) demanding them to reveal what exactly happened.

The new chairman of the FCC, Julius Genachowski, expressed his unhappiness with the actions of the two companies, though he didn't actually explain what would happen on the part of his organization. In a press statement, he said, "Recent news reports raise questions about practices in the mobile marketplace. The Wireless Bureau's inquiry letters to these companies about their practices reflect the Commission's proactive approach to getting the facts and data necessary to make the best policy decisions on behalf of the American people." Of course, the FCC isn't just interested in Google Voice alone, but rather the other applications that have been rejected, and whether AT&T has played any part. You can find their letter to Apple here, and their letter to AT&T here.

As you'll be aware, Apple has made many rather questionable decisions regarding applications, and they seem to tie in with AT&T each time; the FCC is interested in this, as Wired points out, with their letter saying, "Are there any terms in AT&T's customer agreements that limit customer usage of certain third-partyapplications? If so, please indicate how consumers are informed of such limitations and whether such limitations are posted on the iTunes website as well. In general, what is AT&T's role in certifying applications on devices that run over AT&T's 3G network? What, if any, applications require AT&T's approval to be added to a device? Are there any differences between AT&T's treatment of the iPhone and other devices used on its 3G network?"

The FCC isn't stopping here; they've asked Google about the application which they've denied too, wanting explanations on this also. The latest date that the replies can be submitted by the three companies is August 21, and, unfortunately for the trio, the feds will turn away answers that are secretive. However, according to Wired, they can allow some information to be kept under seal.

It's certainly good for consumers that this is happening, and be sure to keep an eye on the Neowin homepage around the deadline date for a development on this.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Ballmer: Apple's Mac growth is a "rounding error"

Next Story

Microsoft scraps Windows 7 'E' version for Europe

101 Comments

View more comments

daPhoenix said,
Indeed but my comment was aimed at the person who said Microsoft would never restrict when infact they do - they approve every single program you can run on your 360. If they do not want to publish it, you can't do anything about it.

What if I want to publish a rape simulator on 360? Not going to happen because Microsoft won't allow it.

As I said, there is nothing to prevent you from self-publishing. It was my third sentence. The Marketplace is only for selling your games on XBL and the community approves them, not Microsoft.

Imagine if back in the 90's Microsoft had blocked Netscape being installed on Windows, they would have been hammered much harder. Glad the spotlight is now on apple.

Thank God T-Mobile hasn't done this. i think they'd be upset once they realize I can call anywhere in the U.S. on no minute clicks for as long as I want, anytime I want.

I agree with the FCC's decision to take matters on this subject.

Apple should, as another user said here, explain in detail why they are rejecting apps.

oh wow... for some odd reason, I saw this coming when I first heard Google Voice was rejected... btw, I love it, I use Google Voice now and I have my free business cards from Google coming in the mail

Reactions of the users on this site are hilarious. Now that apple is in the firing line the FCC has your full backing. Different story when MS is accused of antitrust isn't it? Hypocrites.

LoveThePenguin said,
Reactions of the users on this site are hilarious. Now that apple is in the firing line the FCC has your full backing. Different story when MS is accused of antitrust isn't it? Hypocrites.


Of course, there is no end to the bias on this site.

with one exception... moral responsibility ie: the poster who wanted to make a rape sim for xbox360 (people like that need to be taken out back and whacked with a big stick)

It's not hypercritical unless you take the most shallow of views on the scenarios as you have done which is "MS is being investigated" vs "Apple is being investigated" and completly ignore the actual reasons as to why they are being investigated in the first place.

Given they were looked at for different breaches it's far from hypercritical for people to support MS in their case and Apples in another given anyone with the ability to formulate an opinion would be able to come to different opinions on each case based on the supposed anti trust breaches. I'm quite sure a lot of the users here have based their stance on more than just the company involved or committee doing the review.

Unless you can correct or show me otherwise, I'm quite sure MS's antitrust cases never involved MS having a software review process that could force competitors software not to be installed on Windows because the app duplicated functionality MS already provided.

Or perhaps everyone here is just a MS fanboy that is incapable to looking at the bigger picture.

You are trying to draw paralells where they don't belong. It's not simply a Microsoft good, apple bad scenario. The two situations are vastly different, as +Smigit has pointed out. These people would only be hypocrites if Microsoft and Apple were being investigated for the same thing. Since they are not, we have two different opinions about two different situations. That's not hyporcrisy.

Apple has been real Nazi's when it comes to the apps it allows through its store, but without any real rhyme or reason to how they determine what makes it through. Shake the baby anyone? No? How about a $1000 picture of a diamond? Oh, you want pda net to tether your phone? We're thinking you should just have to pay us an extra $30 bucks instead (still mad at T-mobile for that one too). I could go on and on about this, but enough digression. Since the iphone is so popular, a lot of people are upset when they feel like they are being denied a good, usefull app for no apparent reason. Hence, they are happy that the FCC would want to investigate to protect the consumer.

I am glad that Apple and AT&T will have to justify their actions. I also disagree with the EC's pressure to force MS to include competing browsers with its OS. Oops, guess I'm a hypocrite too.

LoveThePenguin said,
Reactions of the users on this site are hilarious. Now that apple is in the firing line the FCC has your full backing. Different story when MS is accused of antitrust isn't it? Hypocrites.

I think the reactions of everyone has more to do with what does benefit them and what doesn't benefit them. The FCC may influence a change that will lead to more apps and more functionality on my iPhone. A lot of the people cheering this on are Apple customers.

Now, in contrast, the latest stuff on Microsoft doesn't seem to really help me or any of the consumers. So what if a 3rd party browser is pre-installed or there is a selection screen to install it or whatever? The whole thing from the EU is ridiculous, silly, and a complete waist of time.

What I would love to hear from FCC is getting an explanation as to why Opera Mobile was rejected for the iPhone... Opera software stated that they have developed, and was ready to publish their Opera Mobile on the appstore, but that it would be/or was rejected. Although safari is good, another browser would not hurt the consumers I think...

and this is what happens when your apps are beholden to the approval of two companies and can only be downloaded through the iTunes App Store. Windows Mobile and Android FTW.

I love my android but they nixed the tehtering applications from the market. Still ****ed about that one, but at least I can download it elswhere and install without "jailbreaking" my phone and commiting a federal crime.

I was against the latest EU anti trust lawsuit at MS but am for this action by the FCC!!! They are trying to pull Apple up for different reasons.

Apple actively reject applications for iTunes, as in any application that may already be in production or on sale by Apple, that is plain anti-competitive and that is what the FCC are looking into. They are using the VOIP app by Google as an example, but have clearly asked for details regarding ALL denied apps and WHY they have been denied. They are going to examine why they are doing this to see if it is anti competitive, which it clearly is. This should be a fun case to watch and could set a huge precedent as to Apple locking their hardware and controlling the software.

MS don't support 3rd party apps, neither do the makers of your PC, be it custom built or mass manufactured, you are free to put on what you like once you have it. Apple on the other hand closely control all their hardware to prevent this. Their argument being they can't support for 3rd party failures.

I can't wait for more on this, and love the fact the FCC have said nope you can't have lanket confidentiality either, loads of docs will be available to read yay!!!!

Verizon does the same thing with GPS on blackberries. All providers don't seem to want "tethering" apps out there. Maybe WM has a tethering app that is legal, I'm not sure.

As an end user, I'd definitely like to see the FCC prevail so that more apps with more functionality are available to me. Trying to compare iPhones and Blackberries to PCs and Macs as far as standards go is comparing apples to oranges. In the personal computing market you basically ONLY have PCs and Macs. The cell phone market is a lot more crowded than this. If Apple and AT&T are going to have to adopt lose standards for 3rd party apps, are all phones going to have to make the same adjustments?

What other handset provider bans you from installing anything?? Google's Android can be installed with anything that's written and posted, Windows Mobile is the same as is RIM's Blackberry, the fact remains that Apple are actively blocking competing applications that could cause them to lose a particular revenue stream!!!

With a greater market share comes greater control problems. Remember, the reality distortion field is only so powerful. The minute you add thousands of non-apple zealots to the mix, the field no longer operates that well. And that is the problem apple is facing right now. Regular folk dont try and make excuses for the crap a company pulls, they demand answers / solutions. With the iphones big market share, expect all the stunts apple tries to pull to be magnified thousand fold.

When a company's product, or in this case gadget become the product tech, with the lion share of the market for it's type of device, external forces push supporting competitor (irreguardless if you approve or disapprove of this).

Commenting is disabled on this article.