Over the last couple of days there has been a mounting number of people calling out Apple over its pulling of Google Voice related apps. The newest victim is the official Google app but at this point there is some confusion as to whether it is Apple itself doing the pulling or doing so under pressure from AT&T. John Gruber from Daring Fireball came out with a post this morning that pointed the finger squarely at Apple and makes a valid point with this bit
But does anyone really think AT&T pulls the strings in this relationship? Google Voice doesn't just interfere with the carrier's business model, it interferes with Apple's iPhone business model. Not just AT&T but all iPhone carrier partners pay Apple a hefty subsidy for every iPhone sold, and that subsidy is based on assumptions about how much the average iPhone customer is going to pay in monthly service charges for voice, data, and SMS.
However he has just updated that with news that some birdie whispered in his ear that it was indeed AT&T who has been applying the pressure to have the app removed.
[Update 1:40 pm: Well, so much for my speculation. A reliable little birdie has informed me that it was indeed AT&T that objected to Google Voice apps for the iPhone. It's that simple.]
You know what – I don't care which of these companies is responsible for this bonehead move. What I want to know is why is this kind of thing continuing to happen. While there has been some uproar previously over apps getting denied or pulled Apple seems to be taking a rather warped protectionist stance over the Apps store. On one hand they are letting other phone related applications for Skype etc have free run but Google gets a great big slapdown.
Apple is well known for its protection of its product line with some of the best attack lawyers around. Think you can market a PC with OS X on it? Be prepared to be sued into oblivion. Post some rumors that might be too close to the truth – get ready for the Apple lawyers to go for your jugular.
Now it appears that if you want to create an iPhone app that doesn't met their totally screwed up submissions standards or threatens their partner AT&T you'll have it yanked, or denied, for some bullshit excuse – that is if they give you one.
It is amazing that Apple continues to do business in this heavy handed way and still get away with it. If Microsoft ever did anything like this the howls of outrage would be resonating through the tech world an the Department of Justice would be seeing its phones ringing off the hook.
This is no-longer about a computer manufacturer with a minor market share. We are talking about the iPhone here which is now one of the biggest powerhouses in the mobile computing space. It is at the point that if Apple sneezes everyone runs to grab the Kleenex.
The fact that they able to get away with blocking a competitor to a business partner isn't something that should be happening and yet it does.