Google and the FCC are complaining about the rejection of Google Voice from the iPhone App Store. The implication that a Google Voice app should be accepted by Apple is not supported by law or the free enterprise system in the United States.
First of all, who is the bigger monopoly here? Google is the predominant market leader in internet search and perhaps web-based email. Apple is not the market leader in cell phones. Most people do not have an iPhone. Apple is not the market leader in computing. Most people do not have a Mac.
|Make iPhone Apps!|
Apple lays out ground rules for developers who submit apps to the App Store. Among those rules, Apple reserves the right to reject apps for a variety of reasons including duplication of services. And despite these rules, Apple also has the legal right to reject an app from being distributed on its App Store for most any reason. The App Store is a private commercial operation and its content is not governed by the FCC. To depict the App Store as anything else perverts the law of private enterprise. A retail store can choose to carry or not carry a product. Amazon.com can choose to carry or not carry a product on its website. Likewise, Apple’s App Store can pick and choose the apps it chooses to distribute.
Apple may choose to reverse course due to public pressure and media attention. However, the FCC should reconsider its role here and avoid wasting taxpayer money on investigations and actions where it has no real authority. The App Store is not the same as the AT&T cellular network. It is an independent electronic storefront and nothing more.
Regulation of the App Store by the FCC would be an unprecedented use of governmental authority over private retail sales.
There are many other mobile phone platforms, mobile phone manufacturers, and various cellular carriers in the United States alone. Nobody is forced to use an iPhone or AT&T.
As to Apple’s reasons for rejecting the Google Voice app, they are irrelevant. Apple controls the App Store. Period. While it may from time to time make decisions that are unpopular, Apple’s App Store decisions should not be reviewed by the FCC.
As to duplication of functionality, yes, Google Voice does duplicate some functionality on the iPhone. iPhone users have voice mail. Google Voice provides a different version of voice mail with different features, but it is voice mail nonetheless. The iPhone allows owners to place telephone calls including long distance telephone calls over AT&T’s network in the United States. Google Voice also allows for long distance calling.
Is Google Voice the same as the visual voice mail offered by the iPhone and AT&T? Not really. But it is still a voice mail service.
Is Google Voice long distance calling the same as the long distance offered by the iPhone and AT&T? Not really. But it is still long distance service.
Do Apple and AT&T want to support another voicemail or long distance service running on their systems? Probably not, and they do not have to. That’s free enterprise.
What about Skype? Does Apple have to allow Google Voice since they allow Skype? No, the acceptance of one app does not bind Apple to the acceptance of another app, no matter how similar it may be. That’s Apple’s discretion. Again, it may be unpopular, but that is free enterprise.
Bookmark on del.icio.us