Sun, Aug 23, 2009 - Page 11 News List

Apple tells FCC it is undecided on Google Voice


Apple has told US regulators it is studying a Google Voice application for iPhones and is not conspiring with telecom partner AT&T to bar the software from the coveted mobile devices.

Apple, Google and AT&T each explained their sides of the story in letters released on Friday by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) officials investigating why Voice for iPhones hasn’t made it to the App Store, a distribution network for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

“Contrary to published reports, Apple has not rejected the Google Voice application, and continues to study it,” Apple vice president of worldwide global affairs Catherine Novelli said in letter to the FCC on Friday. “Apple is acting alone and has not consulted with AT&T about whether or not to approve the Google Voice application.”

Late last month, FCC investigators intent on finding out whether Apple is unfairly flexing its muscle in the smartphone market sent “inquiry letters” to Apple, Google and AT&T, iPhone’s exclusive carrier in the US.

“AT&T does not participate in Apple’s day-to-day consideration of specific applications,” AT&T senior vice president of external and legal affairs James Cicconi said in written responses to FCC questions. “Nor does Apple typically notify AT&T prior to including applications in the App Store.”

At Google’s request, the Internet firm’s answers to FCC questions about what it was told by Apple on rejecting the Voice iPhone application were removed from a copy of the letter released publicly.

In his written response, Google’s Washington telecom and media counsel Richard Whitt referred to the subject of the correspondence as “Apple’s rejection of Google Voice for iPhone application.”

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said inquiry letters were sent because the agency wanted to get “the facts and data necessary to make the best policy decisions on behalf of the American people.”

The FCC move came after Google said a Voice application for the iPhone was rejected by the App Store and related applications were removed.

Apple said it has not approved the Voice application because it appears to replace the iPhone’s mobile telephone features with a Google interface for telephone calls, text messaging and voicemail.

Voice also transfers data from iPhone users’ address books to Google servers and Apple doesn’t know how that personal information will be safeguarded, Novelli said.

“These factors present several new issues and questions to us that we are still pondering,” Novelli said in her letter. “Apple spent a lot of time and effort developing this distinct and innovative way to seamlessly deliver core functionality of the iPhone.”

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