The text of a letter from Google to the US Federal Communications Commission dated last August 21 — the un-redacted contents of which were only made available today — directly contradicts information given by Apple and iPhone partner AT&T, regarding the apparent rejection of a key Google mobile app from Apple’s iTunes App Store.
Google Voice is a beta project which allows several phone lines to be united under a single new number, accessible from any phone. Earlier this year, Google submitted to Apple an app that would make the service usable on the iPhone. The fiasco over Apple’s rejection of the Google Voice application from the App Store came to a head when the FCC began a formal inquiry into whether the relationship between AT&T and Apple is fair and encouraging to innovations in communication.
The FCC sent letters of inquiry to AT&T, Apple, and Google last July 31. Responding to the inquiry, AT&T stated its position that it had nothing to do with the rejection. Apple said it had “not rejected the Google Voice application, and continues to study it,” and confirmed that AT&T was not involved in the iTunes App Store approval process.
Apple went on to suggest that Google could potentially compromise users’ private data, “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.”
Google’s response to the FCC last month appeared to be the least straightforward of all those involved in the inquiry, and large sections of the text were redacted.
“When we submitted our letter on August 21, we asked the FCC to redact certain portions that involved sensitive commercial conversations between two companies — namely, a description of e-mails, telephone conversations, and in-person meetings between executives at Google and Apple,” Richard Whitt of the Washington Telecom and Media Counsel posted in Google’s public policy blog today.
But certain individuals filed Freedom of Information Act requests to make the FCC release the information, and the full seven-page letter is now available for public consumption.
Within the letter, Google says nothing of continuing investigation, but rather that the app was rejected outright.
“…The Google Voice application was rejected because Apple believed the application duplicated the core dialer functionality of the iPhone. The Apple representatives indicated that the company did not want applications that could potentially replace such functionality.”
To prove this, Google listed with whom it had spoken (Apple SVP Phil Schiller, no less) and the various meetings Schiller had with Google’s Alan Eustace, Vice President of Engineering and Research, over the rejection of Google Voice and Google Latitude, an application which was later converted into a Web app.