Google: Apple rejected Google Voice

Google goes public with its side of the story, telling the FCC that Apple turned down the voice app, despite Apple saying it was still under review.

Tom Krazit Former Staff writer, CNET News
Tom Krazit writes about the ever-expanding world of Google, as the most prominent company on the Internet defends its search juggernaut while expanding into nearly anything it thinks possible. He has previously written about Apple, the traditional PC industry, and chip companies. E-mail Tom.
Tom Krazit
3 min read
Google Voice, shown here running on Android, was in fact rejected from the App Store, Google said Friday. Screenshot by Rafe Needleman/CNET

Updated 10:25 a.m. PDT with additional details, and at 10:52 a.m. with comment from Apple.

Google told the Federal Communications Commission in a redacted letter to the agency a few weeks ago that Apple did in fact reject its Google Voice application from the App Store.

Google dropped its request for confidentiality in the manner concerning the rejection of Google Voice from the App Store in July, and directly contradicted Apple's version of events Friday. In the letter (click for PDF), Google said Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller informed Google that the app had, in fact, been rejected, when Apple's public statements to the FCC in that month claimed it was merely still under review.

The FCC had requested information from Apple, Google, and AT&T concerning the rejection of Google Voice from the App Store in July, and all three companies sent letters that were eventually made public. But Google redacted a significant portion of its letter at the time, raising questions about what lay behind those black pixels.

Now we know. "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," Google said in its letter. By contrast, Apple said in July that "contrary to published reports, Apple has not rejected the Google Voice application and continues to study it."

Apple stuck to that story on Friday. "We do not agree with all of the statements made by Google in their FCC letter," the company said in a statement. "Apple has not rejected the Google Voice application and we continue to discuss it with Google."

Suspicion had originally fallen on AT&T, based on the theory that the wireless carrier didn't want an application that allowed the user to make cheap international calls on its network. But AT&T claimed it had no involvement in the manner in its own letter to the FCC released in August.

Google Voice allows users to give their contacts a single number and have that number ring multiple phones depending on their location. It also translates voice mails into text, and is a popular application on Google's own Android mobile operating system.

In its letter to the FCC, Google also says that Apple rejected the iPhone native version of Google Latitude for potentially causing confusion with the built-in Maps application that ships with every iPhone. That application is an Apple-tweaked version of Google Maps, and Google said Apple believed that "the company did not want applications that could potentially replace such functionality and potentially create user confusion."

Schiller spoke on the phone with Google senior vice president of engineering and research Alan Eustace on July 7th to inform him that Google Voice had been rejected, according to the letter. Other Apple and Google representatives met to discuss the application on several occasions between July 5th and July 28th, but Schiller and Eustace were the point men for their respective organizations, Google said.

Apple has become more open about its App Store approval process in recent weeks and months, explaining to prominent developers why certain applications were rejected from the store and shedding light on the process for the first time in its letter to the FCC.

However, the stark contrast between the public statements of the two companies will undoubtedly raise eyebrows, and give more fuel for those who believe Google and Apple are increasingly at odds, especially now that Google CEO Eric Schmidt no longer sits on Apple's board of directors.