FCC probes Apple rejection of Google Voice

Robert Clark
03 Aug 2009

The US FCC is investigating Apple’s rejection of Google Voice from its App Store.

The regulator sent letters to Apple, Google and AT&T last Friday to ask them about their role in Apple’s decision to turn away the Google app last week, sparking a firestorm of criticism.

Neither Apple nor Google has revealed the reasons for the rejection of the app, which enables users to make free phone calls and text messages within the US.

As well as blocking Google Voice, Apple also deleted several other third-party voice apps which had already been approved.

In its letter to Apple, the FCC asked why the firm rejected Google Voice and whether it acted alone or in consultation with AT&T.

It asked if the firm were bound by “contractual conditions or non-contractual understandings with AT&T”, and to explain the differences between the Google Voice app “and any other VoIP applications that Apple has approved for the iPhone.”
Widening its scope, the FCC also asked the company to explain “the standards for considering and approving iPhone applications.”

“What is the approval process for such applications (timing, reasons for rejection, appeal process, etc.)? What is the percentage of applications that are rejected? What are the major reasons for rejecting an application?”

In its letter to AT&T, the commission asked the carrier to advise whether consumers could use Google Voice on devices other than the iPhone.

FCC Chair Jules Genachowski said the commission had a mission to foster a competitive wireless marketplace and promote innovation and investment.

“The [FCC] Wireless Bureau’s inquiry letters to these companies about their practices reflect the commission’s proactive approach to getting the facts and data necessary to make the best policy decisions on behalf of the American people,” he said in a statement.

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