Google says “You lie!” to Apple on Google Voice rejection

joe-wilsonThe word’s finally out.

Google said Apple did reject its Google Voice application for the iPhone because it “duplicated the core dialer functionality”, according to parts of an unredacted letter released by the Federal Communications Commission today.

That’s funny, because Apple just said last month that it “continues to study” the application and hadn’t rejected it. (The parts the FCC released today were originally blacked out in that same announcement last month.)

Furthermore, it seems this was no low-level decision. Google says that Apple’s Phil Schiller, the senior vice president of worldwide marketing, told Google’s senior vice president of engineering and research, Alan Eustace, over the phone that the app would be rejected.

Google Voice lets you use a single phone number to receive calls on multiple phones and reach your voicemail. It also lets you send free text messages and make international calls for two cents. When the application never made it into the Apple’s app store and the company removed similar independently-developed apps, the FCC launched an investigation. Google declined to comment on what it will do next.

The third party in this affair, AT&T, and the iPhone’s exclusive wireless carrier, has said it had no role in the decision on the app.

From the letter:

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And here’s Apple’s original response for comparison:

Question 1. Why did Apple reject the Google Voice application for iPhone and remove related third-party applications from its App Store? In addition to Google Voice, which related third-party applications were removed or have been rejected? Please provide the specific name of each application and the contact information for the developer.

Contrary to published reports, Apple has not rejected the Google Voice application, and continues to study it. The application has not been approved because, as submitted for review, it appears to alter the iPhone’s distinctive user experience by replacing the iPhone’s core mobile telephone functionality and Apple user interface with its own user interface for telephone calls, text messaging and voicemail. Apple spent a lot of time and effort developing this distinct and innovative way to seamlessly deliver core functionality of the iPhone. For example, on an iPhone, the “Phone” icon that is always shown at the bottom of the Home Screen launches Apple’s mobile telephone application, providing access to Favorites, Recents, Contacts, a Keypad, and Visual Voicemail. The Google Voice application replaces Apple’s Visual Voicemail by routing calls through a separate Google Voice telephone number that stores any voicemail, preventing voicemail from being stored on the iPhone, i.e., disabling Apple’s Visual Voicemail. Similarly, SMS text messages are managed through the Google hub—replacing the iPhone’s text messaging feature. In addition, the iPhone user’s entire Contacts database is transferred to Google’s servers, and we have yet to obtain any assurances from Google that this data will only be used in appropriate ways. These factors present several new issues and questions to us that we are still pondering at this time.

(Note: The photo above is related in no way to Apple and Google, other than the fact that it involves a similar accusation from Senator Joe Wilson at U.S. President Barack Obama during his health care speech.)