Apple Responds To FCC Inquiry About Google Voice App
AT&T said Friday that it had no responsibility for Apple's decision to block Google's voice app from the iPhone.
"AT&T was not asked about the matter by Apple at any time, nor did it offer any view one way or the other," the telecom said in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission.
Earlier this month, the FCC asked AT&T, Apple and Google for more information about why Apple blocked the Google Voice app -- which lets users send SMS messages and make cheap international phone calls -- from the iPhone app store.
Apple said Friday that the decision to block the Google Voice app stemmed from concerns that it "appears to alter the iPhone's distinctive user experience."
Specifically, Apple asserts that the app would disable the iPhone's visual voice mail and would also replace its text messaging feature. "Apple spent a lot of time and effort developing this distinct and innovative way to seamlessly deliver core functionality of the iPhone," the company said.
In addition, Apple said it's concerned that the app would transfer users' contacts to Google's servers. "We have yet to obtain any assurances from Google that this data will only be used in appropriate ways," the company said.
Apple, which currently offers 65,000 iPhone apps, told the FCC that the Google Voice app has not been definitively rejected. "We are continuing to study the Google Voice application and its potential impact on the iPhone user experience. Google is of course free to provide Google Voice on the iPhone as a web application through Apple's Safari browser, just as they do for desktop PCs," the company said.
The FCC's investigation into Apple's disapproval of the Google Voice app comes as policymakers are increasingly interested in wireless competition. Among other issues, regulators and lawmakers are questioning whether exclusivity deals, such as Apple's deal with AT&T -- which makes the telecom the only authorized U.S. wireless provider for the iPhone -- harm consumers.
The FCC will hold a hearing about wireless competition issues on Thursday.