UPDATE 2009-07-29: According to Sean Kovacs’ (creator of GV Mobile) blog, Apple has admitted to the fact that it was AT&T that called for the removal of the Google Voice apps from the App Store. This is an extremely biased move on AT&T’s part since the BlackBerry has an official (released by Google) Google Voice application. And for the reason’s I stated below, it is kind of idiotic for AT&T to want to block Google Voice on iPhone’s, since you need to have a regular phone to use Google Voice in the first place.
If you’re not aware, Apple has rejected Google’s iPhone app for Google Voice. Apple also went ahead and removed previously approved Google Voice apps from the iPhone App Store.
Many people are putting the blame squarely on AT&T for this sudden move. However, I argue that these people are blantently wrong. Before I explain why, I want to explain how Google Voice works for making phone calls. Currently, to make a phone call through Google Voice, you have to log into the Google Voice website and type the number you want to call. What happens next is, Google Voice calls your cell phone (or which ever phone you specifiy the call to go to), where you answer the phone. After you answer on your phone, Google Voice then dials the number you wanted and connects it to you.
So, as you can see, using Google Voice on your iPhone requires the use of cellular minutes that come out of your celluar plan (unless the call comes in during your free minute periods, like nights/weekends). You still take the phone call through your cell phone so you use cell minutes. So there is zero competition from Google Voice on this front since it’s not a true VOIP (Voice Over IP) system. And, while Google Voice allows you to make international calls for cheap, you still have to pay for those minutes in your cell plane, you just won’t pay the international rates of your cell provider.
Where Google Voice could compete with AT&T is the free SMS that Google Voice provides. However, if you want to get the messages as soon as possible, you’d have to turn on SMS forwarding which in turn will use your cell providers SMS services, thus charging you. Sure, you can turn off the SMS forwarding feature in Google Voice, nothing is stopping a GV user from doing so. But currently, forwarding the messages from Google Voice to your phone (and responding from your phone) uses your messaging plan’s text messages.
Nope, this rejection and removable of applications lies solely at the feet of Apple. This is the downside to going with a closed garden approach for phone applications. If you have an iPhone (which I do), you are completely at the mercy of Apple’s app approval process. In this case Apple is going to tick off enough people that they’ll jump ship the second they can. I myself will wait until AT&T has an Android device, then I will probably jump to tha. The Android and BlackBerry Google Voices apps still work (on AT&T this would be solely limited to BlackBerry), so if it was AT&T saying “no” they wouldn’t have allowed the BlackBerry Google Voice app, but they did. I blame Apple for this entire debacle.