Apple’s War on Innovation

For those who know me, you know that I would give my first born child to Google. So what happens when my beloved iPhone creator Apple rejects something Google makes? I get sad and depressed like Mommy and Daddy are fighting. Recently it was announced that all Google Voice related apps on the iPhone App Store were removed for “duplicating functionality already on the iPhone.”Google Voice

Google Voice is a service that allows you to keep one number and forward it to any phone you own. Google gives you one number for life, for free. Tons of features come with it, it’s essentially your own personal call center. You can block callers, screen calls, and set times for which phones ring. There’s tons more that I’m not mentioning. It’s absolutely amazing and it’s something that the Telcos should have come up with years ago. But they didn’t. Now Google’s got it and there isn’t even a competitor for this type of service, let alone one for free.

Google recently opened the flood gates for Google Voice to the public and has been sending invites like crazy. This must have what triggered the events that recently passed. Two apps were already available in the App Store – GV Mobile and VoiceCentral. They’ve been around since May. They were paid apps developed by third party developers. The main reason people want these apps is to be able to show their Google Voice number on outgoing calls, and to review all history on their Google Voice account. These apps also integrated with your iPhone address book. But these apps were pulled this week, and then Google admitted that Apple denied their official app that was submitted six weeks ago. Again, the apps were pulled for “duplicating functionality already on the iPhone.” You may want to re-read that. And come on, how many notes apps are in the App Store?

There are several reasons why this is and should be upsetting to iPhone users.

First, Apple is now aggressively blocking an incredibly useful app. Something that is new, that no one else has. Their acceptance to date has been pretty inconsistent. They’ve hindered functionality of apps like Google Latitude, and Skype. But this was a flat out block, and a retroactive one at that. The apps that were already in the store were APPROVED for months, then retroactively denied. People paid money for them, and now if they need to clear their iPhone, they won’t be available.

Second, Google has already released this app to all Blackberry phones, including those on the AT&T network. So AT&T already has this app functioning on another device on their network. Some have suggested that AT&T is not ready for the growth of the iPhone userbase, even though they’ve dropped the price of the phone down to a mere $99 to gain… more iPhone users.

Third, most people are placing the blame entirely on AT&T. AT&T is scared of Google Voice, even though to use the service… you have to have a wireless phone number to use it wirelessly. It’s not a VOIP app. I will be using my AT&T minutes to make calls on my iPhone. You can also text from Google Voice, which is maybe what they are afraid of. But most people are going to keep their texting plans too (because $30 a month is a reasonable price). So if AT&T thinks they are going to lose money on it, they are wrong. They will lose money by for blocking it, as a lot of people will move to the Android platform which has a much more open acceptance for applications developed for it.

Fourth, and last. Apple has been so inconsistent with its approval of apps that developers may not want to take a chance on any kind of application that “duplicates functionality already on the iPhone” or improves upon it. Why spend money and time developing an application if you have no certainty on whether that app will show up a month or two later? Apple and AT&T are blocking true innovation on an already innovative phone. Why not improve it and foster even greater unimaginable uses for the phone?

I am greatly upset with this new trend Apple is setting, and as a consumer I should be allowed to put whatever I want on my phone as long as it doesn’t interrupt with AT&T’s network. Android and the Blackberry will have time to catch up to the iPhone if this continues. Even if you aren’t a Google Voice user, you should still remain concerned. Hopefully these are just growing pains that we can laugh at in a year.

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