WSJ wrongly blames AT&T for Google Voice iPhone app rejection

WSJ wrongly blames AT&T for Google Voice iPhone app rejection

Summary: A guest opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal this week is getting some attention. In a nutshell, it alleges that AT&T was behind the death of a Google Voice app for the iPhone and suggests that, in a world where data is bigger than voice, that we need a national data policy.

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A guest opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal this week is getting some attention. In a nutshell, it alleges that AT&T was behind the death of a Google Voice app for the iPhone and suggests that, in a world where data is bigger than voice, that we need a national data policy. (More on that app rejection allegation below)

I won't argue much about the need for a national data policy, largely because I agree that the current systems are flawed and are stifling innovation. Among the suggestions offered by guest columnist Andy Kessler:

  • End phone exclusivity so any device works on any network.
  • Transition away from "owning" airwaves so that we can share the airwaves much the way we share WiFi, regardless of device.
  • End municipal exclusivity deals for cable companies to increase competition and push us into a la carte viewing.
  • Encourage faster and faster data connections to our homes and phones, ideally with them doubling every two years.

That's just a quick summary of his suggestions and, while I've been a long proponent of ending mobile phone exclusivity, I also understand that there are some economics that won't permit these sort of changes overnight. When companies invest in technologies, they need to ensure that there are returns on those investments. Without things like exclusive deals to help guarantee those returns, companies will be less likely to make the initial investments, which, in turn, could further stifle innovation.

A very vicious and complex cycle.

As for the rest of the WSJ piece, specifically about AT&T's role in the death of the Google Voice app, I say "hogwash." AT&T has gone on the record saying that it had nothing to do with it. Given the way leaks involving Apple and the iPhone get out there, does anyone think that AT&T would have seriously lied in a written statement?

That aside, it makes no sense from a business standpoint to block that app. Users of that app are using both the data and voice networks to initiate and process that call. AT&T Wireless provides the access to both of those pipelines over the iPhone. Check out my argument in the video below.

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Topics: iPhone, Apps, Google, Hardware, Mobility, Smartphones, AT&T

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15 comments
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  • I agree, this is M$'s fault

    Somehow, this is M$'s fault. I just know it.
    NonZealot
    • Of course it is

      Didn't you know that back in 1975 when Bill Gates and Steve Jobs met up at that computer convention that Bill knew that one day he would be a wealthy billionaire and paid Steve Jobs off to not allow the Google Voice App. Here we are 39 years later and that is exactly what happened. Bill Gates knew the future so back in 1975 he had to stop this one particular app out of 50,000 from being approved.
      Loverock Davidson
  • Actually

    AT&T's formal statement about Google Voice was ambiguous! A proper
    blog would have quoted it and discussed this fact. Because if you
    interpret their statement literally, you realize AT&T didn't say anything
    you probably didn't already believe: that AT&T doesn't do the actual
    flipping of the switch that puts iPhone apps on and takes them off the
    store. Naturally, Apple would be the one to initiate the switch, but one
    has to believe AT&T influences the decision, and hopefully the FCC finds
    out just how much influence AT&T wields.

    In addition to quoting and discussing what AT&T actually said, you could
    have detailed the internal reasons Apple itself might want Google Voice off
    the iPhone. For instance, is Apple developing its own Voice? Is that one of
    the reasons for Apple building a huge data center in North Carolina?
    dogbreath1
    • Ambiguous?

      @[i]Your letter concerning Apple?s decision on the Google Voice iPhone app was forwarded to me since I work closely with Apple.

      While we?re very proud to offer the iPhone 3GS along with the thousands of apps available through the App Store, [b]AT&T does not manage the App Store ? and we are not involved in the approval process for apps in the App Store. I recommend in this particular case that you express your concerns to Apple.[/b]

      I?m glad you?re enjoying your iPhone and hope that you continue to be an AT&T customer. We appreciate and value your business.

      Sincerely, Glenn Lurie[/i]"

      Nope. That's pretty clear to me.

      Good to see the WSJ fawning over Apple like the increasingly irrelevant lapdogs they've become though.
      Sleeper Service
      • Ambiguity

        The unambiguous denial would be "There is neither anything in AT&T's agreement with Apple nor have there been any communications asking or ordering Apple to withdraw Google Voice from its App Store."

        Regarding what they do say, I'm sure you would agree that who manages the App Store is a straw man. The ambiguity hinges on if there is another phase between Apple's review and an app taking its place in the store.

        I have seen some speculation that the problem isn't one of competition with AT&T, but of worries that AT&T's network won't handle the traffic.

        I have not decided who is at fault. I don't see any good reason for Apple to reject the app. Everyone seems okay with Skype on the iPhone.

        In the meantime, I think we are in a parlor with the dead body and there are two people who both have motives. I am reserving my judgments until we hear the results from inquiries by Inspector Flying Thompson Gazelle from the FCC.
        DannyO_0x98
        • Really?

          No you are not!
          handydan918
  • iPhone = innovation?????

    That's like Herbalife peddling laxative as a "weight loss" product (which they did)!
    If the iPhone was being sold by GM as an automobile GM would not have come out of bankrupcy. There is a lot of fluff and flash but very little real innovation.
    kd5auq
  • A la carte cable? Riiiight.

    You can 100% ABSOLUTELY COUNT on the cable and satellite companies fighting that to the death.
    Hallowed are the Ori
  • RE: WSJ wrongly blames AT&T for Google Voice iPhone app rejection

    I think the author of this post is either an idiot, is quite
    naive, or is looking to gain hits with this flamebait.

    AT&T probably had nothing to do with SlingPlayer and Skype
    no allowed to stream on 3G, Qik streaming on 3G too, right
    - I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell, interested?
    PMUP
  • Interesting timing

    AT&T forces Apple to remove Google app from store on 7-26, Schmidt leaves Apple board a week later.

    Doesn't make a lot of sense. as Schmidt would figure Apples hands are tied

    Now, if [b]Apple[/b] removed the app...
    AllKnowingAllSeeing
  • AT&T is dying

    Your argument was unconvincing. AT&T's artfully-worded
    denial looks like it was designed to mislead you. It merely
    stated that AT&T does not operate the app store. We knew
    that already. AT&T's statement did not deny that they
    exerted pressure on Apple behind the scenes to reject the GV
    app.

    The article in today's Wall Street Journal was more
    compelling: AT&T is dying.
    Douglas Ward
  • What about SMS and long distance calling?

    You forgot that with GV, you can send and receive SMS for free, and call long distance at a much cheaper rate than AT&T's. The lack of a native GV app on the iPhone prevents users to be notified (with Push) of incoming texts. This is the only reason why I (and I'm sure many others) haven't fully migrated to GV for SMS.
    abmd1234
  • RE: WSJ wrongly blames AT&T for Google Voice iPhone app rejection

    There is a web site providing "push notification" service for web apps that use GV for SMS: http://www.gvsms.com.

    An GV iPhone app with 2-way SMS(capable of "push notification") is under development. Should Apple somehow changes mind and let GV app back to app store, then people like you will adopt GV SMS.
    milimili
  • RE: WSJ wrongly blames AT&T for Google Voice iPhone app rejection

    AT&T lie in a written statement? No, not AT&T. Not the company that assisted the Bush Admin in secretly spying on your email!
    cbs1947
  • RE: WSJ wrongly blames AT&T for Google Voice iPhone app rejection

    Smart Mouth Mobile is already releasing a cross platform application as well as a service that works on land lines that WILL bypass the "monopoly" of wireless providers. Unlimited calling, texting and much more for $19.95 per YEAR!

    http://SmartMouthMobile.com
    SmarterApps