In a letter to the FCC, Google says Apple rejected its Internet phone application, contradicting the iPhone maker’s earlier statement that it was still reviewing Google Voice for sale at the App Store.
The conflicting statements were revealed today as Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and the FCC made the search giant’s regulatory filing public by posting the document online available here in PDF format). When initially filed, parts of the Google letter were redacted under a confidentiality provision.
Upon a federal request, Google, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and AT&T, which holds the exclusive carrier contract for the iPhone, all filed letters on Aug. 21 with the FCC explaining their respective roles in the handling of the Google Voice app submission for approval at the App Store.
In Apple’s letter to the FCC it said the VoIP app submitted by Googlewas still under consideration and had not been rejected.
“Contrary to published reports, Apple has not rejected the Google Voice application, and continues to study it,” Apple said in its filing. “The application has not been approved because, as submitted for review, it appears to alter the iPhone’s distinctive user experience by replacing the iPhone’s core mobile telephone functionality and Apple user interface with its own user interface for telephone calls, text messaging and voicemail.”
However, portions of Google’s regulatory filing made public today say, “Apple’s representatives informed Google that 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.”
Google’s VoIP call-routing service, which is currently available for Android and BlackBerry mobile devices, offers users a centralized platform handling a unified phone number, SMS and automated voicemail transcription.
Apple also rejected Google’s Latitude application.
Google said in the letter that Latitude was “rejected because Apple believed the application had the potential to replace the preloaded maps application, create user confusion since the preloaded maps application on the iPhone is a version of Google Maps, and offer new features not present on the preloaded maps (which might also contribute to the user confusion referenced above). The Apple representatives indicated that the company did not want applications that could potentially replace such functionality and create user confusion.”
The search giant also said it did not currently have any other applications pending approval with Apple. It also said it had no communication with AT&T on the issue.
Why Google went public
Google’s D.C.-based telecom counsel explained the company’s decision to go public with the letter in a blog post at Google’s policy forum.
When Google initially filed its letter with the FCC last month, it asked the FCC “to redact certain portions that involved sensitive commercial conversations between two companies,” Richard Whitt, Google’s Washington telecom and media counsel, wrote today in the blog post.
“Several individuals and organizations submitted Freedom of Information Act requests with the FCC seeking access to this information,” wrote Whitt.
“While we could have asked the FCC to oppose those requests, in light of Apple’s decision to make its own letter fully public and in the interest of transparency, we decided to drop our request for confidentiality. Today the FCC posted the full content of our letter to their Web site.”
Whitt adds that the company is still working with Apple to “bring the best mobile Google experience possible.”
Spokespeople for Apple did not immediately return calls seeking comment.
Meanwhile, rival Palm (NASDAQ: PALM) just gave the green light to a free, third-party version of Google Voice for its Palm Beta App Catalog, which is expected to be officially unveiled next week.
In contrast to Apple, Palm approved gDial Pro by drawing parallels between Google Voice and its own mobile OS.
“One of the most powerful aspects of webOS is Palm Synergy, which brings together your online accounts in one simple, logical view, and keeps them synced up automatically. Google Voice applies a similar philosophy to your phone number and phone services, offering you a range of options for everything from forwarding calls among your phones to transcribing voicemail messages into text,” Jon Zilber, Palm’s online communications director, at the Palm blog.
“With gDial Pro, a webOS app from Mobile Entertainment Group, your Palm Pre can now use and manage your Google Voice account.”