FCC Launches Investigation Of Apple's Rejection Of Google Voice App [Silicon Alley Insider]
After Google revealed last week that Apple had rejected its Google Voice application for the iPhone Apps Store, on Friday several reports surfaced indicating that the FCC has sent letters to Google, Apple and AT&T (the iPhone's exclusive U.S. carrier) requesting "a more complete understanding of the situation."
The Google Voice application provides call routing, enhanced voicemail and free text messaging for its users. As I indicated last week, Apple's rejection of the application created questions about AT&T's role in the decision, which, according to the New York Times, is the focus of the FCC's inquiry into the matter.
This article indicates that observers have questioned whether the free text messaging available with the Google Voice application raised concerns about the potential loss of iPhone text messaging revenue at AT&T, resulting in the rejection of the application. By the way, the Google Voice application is available for AT&T's BlackBerry products, but AT&T does not have the ability to block the installation of applications on BlackBerrys in the same way that Apple can reject iPhone applications.
And, as I've noted here several times before, this isn't the first time that Apple has rejected or placed limitations an iPhone application that has the potential of competing with existing AT&T services. Three months ago, Apple limited the SlingPlayer application by prohibiting it from streaming video via AT&T's wireless network, while allowing other applications to stream video via the AT&T network. It's not a secret that many SlingPlayer users are streaming cable programming, which competes with AT&T's own video product in many locales.
The FCC wants to examine AT&T's role in determining which applications are rejected from the iTunes Apps Store, and what role that AT&T had in the rejection of Google Voice, based on questions they ask of Apple in their letter to that company. It will be interesting to see the results of the FCC's examination of these issues.