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FCC Probing Apple, AT&T Rejection of Google Voice 204

suraj.sun writes with an update to the news from a few days ago about Apple pulling Google Voice apps for the iPhone. Their actions have raised the interest of the FCC, which is now beginning an investigation into the matter. "In a letter sent to Apple, the FCC asked the company why it turned down Google Voice for the iPhone and pulled several other Google Voice-related programs from the iPhone's only sanctioned online mart. The FCC also sent similar letters to both AT&T — Apple's exclusive carrier partner in the US — and Google, asking both firms to provide more information on the issue. The FCC's letter asked Apple whether it rejected Google Voice and dumped other applications on its own, or 'in consultation with AT&T,' and if the latter, to describe the conversations the partners had. In other questions, the FCC asked Apple whether AT&T has any role in the approval of iPhone applications, wants the company to explain how Google Voice differs from any other VoIP software that has been approved, and requested a list of all applications that have been rejected and why."
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FCC Probing Apple, AT&T Rejection of Google Voice

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  • by lseltzer ( 311306 ) on Saturday August 01, 2009 @08:19AM (#28907895)

    Just askin'

  • This investigation has been brought to you by Google.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      As new internet-based markets are established, say for cell phone software, should they really be exempt from regulations on existing markets?

      • by copponex ( 13876 ) on Saturday August 01, 2009 @09:18AM (#28908149) Homepage

        Of course, if you regulate an industry, you make it slow and impede business and you're a socialist. Everyone knows that self regulation [wikipedia.org] leads to utopia [wikipedia.org], much as disbanding our police departments would lead to a lower crime rate.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          However, socialism for old people isn't socialism. As shown by the right's embrace of Medicare (and recently their defense of it from an attack that's not really coming).

          • by EQ ( 28372 ) on Saturday August 01, 2009 @10:29AM (#28908557) Homepage Journal
            You're in error: don't confuse "the right" with the Republican Party. The latter is just as big a bunch of big-government fat cats as are many of the Democrats -- they proved it by setting up the deficits with massive overspending during the Bush presidency. The Republican party as it exists now is "right" only when it suits them and can get them money. Pretty much about the same as anyone else in side DC - they are after money and power for its own sake, and could give a crap less about rights, responsibilities, etc.
            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by RazorSharp ( 1418697 )

              You're in error: don't confuse "the Republican party" with libertarians, who don't have an influential American political party and never will.

            • Ah, the No True Scotsman defense. Conservatives has failed miserably in government, so post hoc, you simply state that the people who failed weren't true conservatives.

              • by Toonol ( 1057698 )
                You misunderstand the 'No True Scotsman' error. It would be applicable if his argument was 'Real Republicans' wouldn't act that way. That's not what he said; he said they weren't true conservatives. Since Republican and Conservative are different (but overlapping) sets, with different definitions, what he said is perfectly valid.

                There are conservative libertarians, for instance, and there are republicans who aren't conservative. This is true, which makes your criticism an error.
                • In a two party system one part is the more 'conservative' and one is the more 'liberal', one is the 'right' the other is the 'left'. Republicans are the right in the US today. I agree that both Republicans and Democrats can do a pretty shoddy job, but the ideologies are certainly 'left' or 'right'.

                  • Agreed. At some point, the republican party lost it's 'small government' brand and switched it's base to far right conservatives, so they are in essence, one in the same. They realized how easy it is to mobilize that right, especially with fear tactics and a wee bit of stretching the truth. Make them afraid and they will come. This is the root of all their identity issues. It's a total love-hate relationship. Here they have a fanatical loyal base that is hard to give up for the vastness that are moderates,
            • Do you watch Fox News?

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by spud.dups ( 1371655 )

            You're error lies in the fact that the amendment voted against by the Republicans (no 'the right') was an amendment to completely abolish Medicare overnight. After having much of society live on Medicare for so long, then have it suddenly removed, would create a serious market problem. It was written in an extremest point of view, not allowing for a gradual decline but a sudden stop. I don't believe may people would agree with this procedure, and voting against it definitely does _not _ imply an 'embrace of

        • much as disbanding our police departments would lead to a lower crime rate.

          You know, you might be on to something here. Up in Canada we have far fewer police, and our crime rate is about half per capita.

          Correlation is not causation.

          Go back to the future, you time travelling scum!

          • by copponex ( 13876 )

            You know, you might be on to something here. Up in Canada we have far fewer police, and our crime rate is about half per capita.

            That's because you can't buy assault weapons at gun shows and there is a much more subdued attitude towards the war on drugs. Additionally, you have socialized medicine, which prevents the leading cause of all bankruptcies, which is loss of income due to health issues.

    • by SgtChaireBourne ( 457691 ) on Saturday August 01, 2009 @02:11PM (#28910545) Homepage

      This investigation has been brought to you by Google.

      And in unrelated news, Bill Gate's assistant and strategist and MS exec for 13 years has been appointed managing director of the FCC [informationweek.com].

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by davester666 ( 731373 )

      Well, the FCC also sent a letter to Google about what apps Google has rejected from it's Android store and why they were rejected.

      One of the most important things (IMHO) with these requests is that the FCC ordered that the replies NOT be covered by a blanket secrecy request...

  • Woot (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mrwolf007 ( 1116997 )
    Free market vs Jobs dictatorship.
    This was bound to happen, the iTunes situation is growing too similiar to the Windows monopoly.
    Now please excuse me while i get some popcorn.
  • So Apple is going to join Microsoft in the Ye Olde Convicted Monopolists' club?
    • by Dunbal ( 464142 )

      So Apple is going to join Microsoft in the Ye Olde Convicted Monopolists' club?

            Probably. And like Microsoft, it will just ignore the rulings. After all, in today's economy, companies like Microsoft and Apple are "too big to fail". Perhaps the government will print another few hundred billion and give them a bailout instead.

      • "...print another few hundred billion and give them a bailout"

        How about a cash for clunkers program that gives PC owners a trade in allowance when they upgrade to Macs.
        A few hundred billion should cover a few Mac Pros.

  • forces apple to sell factory-unlocked iphones leaving at&t to compete like/with the rest of the carriers, i cant guarantee i would buy the shiny little expensive piece of crap but i do believe exclusive deals that tie cellphones to certain carriers to be a hindrance to fair and honest business practices...
  • Mmm (Score:2, Funny)

    Hope this takes a bite out of Apple's market share.
  • by sanosuke001 ( 640243 ) on Saturday August 01, 2009 @08:55AM (#28908043)
    "and requested a list of all applications that have been rejected and why"

    To me, that is the most interesting section of this summary. The FCC wants a list of ALL apps that have been denied and the reasons why. This could be the beginning of a boot up Apple/AT&T's collective asses. If the FCC does what they should do, they probably won't be able to deny the majority of apps anymore. If the FCC gets some cash, it will be SOP as usual. The latter seems more likely, unfortunately.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 01, 2009 @09:28AM (#28908193)

      #69: Dangerously sexy.
      #124: Got tailgated on my way to work today.
      #459: Users can't handle that much power.
      #644: Toothache.
      #692: That background with those buttons? Honey, no!
      #771: Wife threatening to leave me.
      #841: Better than our stuff.
      #1230: Made fun of Apple user stereotypes. Very funny. Not.
      #1599: I know this guy, he's a jerk.
      #1998: Not hip.
      #2000: 2000 GET! Haha, suckers!
      #3922: My God, is that a nipple?!
      #5210: Took His name in vain.
      #6184: Anti-monopolistic.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by yabos ( 719499 )
      I wonder if they even keep very good track of it. The approval process seems to be very random and the reviewers seem to have too much power. They reject apps for blatantly stupid reasons without much recourse for the developer.
  • Since when has the FCC become the government's "private company czar"?
    • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Saturday August 01, 2009 @09:33AM (#28908235) Homepage

      The problem is that the FCC is investigating how AT&T is using its influence over Apple to control how the airwaves that the FCC leases to AT&T are being used. This is not the FCC getting into Apple's business for the hell of it. This is the FCC getting into it with AT&T... again. Google Voice provides a means to circumvent a lot of needless charges from AT&T. AT&T seeks to block those circumventions by leveraging their relationship with Apple.

    • The commission regulates telephone companies (wire and cellular) and competition between those companies - so its well within their right to ask these kinds of questions and get answers.

  • About Damn Time (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DiSKiLLeR ( 17651 )

    About damn time if you ask me. If this was the Australian Government, Apple and AT&T would have been ripped apart into shreds over this.

    and requested a list of all applications that have been rejected and why.

    I personally would LOVE to see this list. In full. This should be on wikileaks.

    I've personally had enough of the Steve Jobs dictatorship.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mkiwi ( 585287 )

      AT&T was most likely the cause of the removal of google voice. Apple probably has their hands tied by servicing agreements, so the only way they can get google voice (which would be great for the iphone platform) is through government intervention. I imagine there were some discussions between Apple and Google about how to make this work. Somebody fIling a complaint with the FCC is a good way for Apple to cover its contractual ass and for google to get their software on the iPhone.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Oh bulldust (yes, I'm an Aussie (too?)). You need only look at the namby-pamby approach our government and the ACCC have had towards Telstra for the past decade or so, first under the Liberals, and then under Labor. The ACCC seem to be too weak to do jack and the Government keeps saying it's up to the ACCC, that their hands are tied. Great flick passing there, and certainly no "ripping to shreds".
  • Let's not forget (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Khan ( 19367 ) on Saturday August 01, 2009 @09:44AM (#28908295)

    AT&T. Delivering Your World. To The NSA.

    This is a perfect example of why these exclusive contracts with one carrier (regardless of who it is) is a Bad Thing (tm). Innovation and competition are easily squashed. And we, the consumers, continue to get screwed like sheep.

    • "And we, the consumers, continue to get screwed like sheep."

      This is /., we should be happy any of us get some however we can.

    • by Eil ( 82413 )

      And we, the consumers, continue to get screwed like sheep.

      People I feel no sympathy towards:

      - Those who bought an iPhone knowing full well that Apple and AT&T have absolute and full control over the software running on it, including (but not limited to) which programs you can install and even going so far as to have a "kill switch" to terminate applications that they don't like.
      - Those who bought a Kindle and didn't stop to think that Amazon can do whatever they want with your book purchases, including

  • by sdo1 ( 213835 ) on Saturday August 01, 2009 @09:56AM (#28908359) Journal

    It's time for telcos to stop being telcos and start being wireless data providers. Selling bits instead of services is fundamental to net neutrality. I know that breaks their business models, but too bad. On the iPhone, they already sell apps that use some amount of bandwidth. They shouldn't get to pick and choose the ones that affect their outdated business model. If they just sold bits and bandwidth independent of what kind of data is being carried on them, then this wouldn't be an issue and that's how it SHOULD be.

    I know this isn't going to change overnight, but I fully support the FCC looking into this. It's nice to know that under the new administration they're taking a pro-consumer stance instead of pro-business stance.


    • by weston ( 16146 ) <westonsd&canncentral,org> on Saturday August 01, 2009 @04:02PM (#28911355) Homepage

      It's time for telcos to stop being telcos and start being wireless data providers. Selling bits instead of services is fundamental to net neutrality. I know that breaks their business models, but too bad.

      If we're going to just regard it as "too bad" if something doesn't fit their business model, then that's more or less an admission that this service shouldn't be a part of the private sector anymore. Businesses should be able to pursue their private interests, investors should be able to get returns.

      Not that I think you're necessarily wrong -- if it's not already, it may soon be time for a different way of handling wireless communication infrastructure.

  • As an Apple fan (Score:5, Interesting)

    by earthbound kid ( 859282 ) on Saturday August 01, 2009 @11:15AM (#28908865) Homepage

    ...and as an iPhone owner, I say:

    Good. I hope that the Feds can scare Apple into opening up the iPhone a little more. I think anyone who owns an iPhone should be on the side of the Feds on this one.

    Here's a suggestion for Apple though, why not a two track system for iPhone apps: You can install whatever you like *as long as it doesn't use the cell-network* or you can install specially reviewed apps through the iTunes store, as is done now. That way if someone just wants to sell a game or a screensaver or whatever, they can just sell it themselves without having to get permission from Apple. On the other hand, things that use the cell-network and could potentially overload it or be used for phreaker attacks or whatever can be reviewed by Apple as is done now. Reducing the volume of things reviewed by Apple should make the process a lot less painful for developers and give users a lot more freedom.

  • by David Gerard ( 12369 ) <slashdot&davidgerard,co,uk> on Saturday August 01, 2009 @11:31AM (#28908995) Homepage

    After bricking unlocked iPhones, kicking applications off the iPhone store that might even slightly compete with iTunes in the far future and charging developers for the privilege and filing a wave of patents on basic well-known computer science, Apple Inc. today filed a Form 8-K with the Securities and Exchange Commission declaring that it was openly adopting Evil(tm) as a corporate policy [today.com].

    "Fuck it," said Steve Jobs to an audience of soul-mortgaged thralls, "we're evil. But our stuff is sooo good. You'll keep taking our abuse. You love it, you worm. Because our stuff is great. It's shiny and it's pretty and it's cool and it works. It's not like you'll go back to a Windows Mobile phone. Ha! Ha!"

    Steve Ballmer of Microsoft was incensed at the news. "Our evil is better than anyone's evil! No-one sweats the details of evil like Microsoft! Where's your antitrust trial, you polo-necked bozo? We've worked hard on our evil! Our Zune's as evil as an iPod any day! I won't let my kids use a lesser evil! We're going to do an ad about that! I'll be in it! With Jerry Seinfeld! Beat that! Asshole."

    "Of course, we're still not evil, we said so," said Sergey Brin of Google. "You can trust us on this. Every bit of data about you, your life and the house you live in is strictly a secret between you and our marketing department. But, hypothetically, if we were evil, it's not like you're going to use Windows Live Search. I mean, 'Bing.' Ha! Ha! I'm sorry, that's my 'spreading good cheer' laugh. Really."

  • The simple answer is that it's an anti-competitive move (semi-monopolistic) in regards to text messaging fees. AT&T makes a killing on text-messaging fees, charging 20 cents for 1120 bytes or less of data. Google Voice lets you make an end-run around that and send text messages from your Google Voice number using your phone's data plan (which, if you have unlimited data = free text messaging). AT&T wants to preserve that huge revenue stream, so they had Apple lock Google Voice out of it.

  • More power to the FCC to rein in Apple's arrogance. This whole "duplication of functionality" ploy is bogus. It basically boils down to two things:

    1: We want to continue to immensely overcharge for the voice channel as long as we possibly can.
    2: We don't want anybody else to show up our shoddy programming with better apps so we'll just stifle competition in any area that we already compete.

    That's why I'll have an Android phone before I'd ever consider an iPhone. Google is only half as bad as Apple in t
  • Apple is as evil as Microsoft and its about time people noticed.

    Opera and Firefox are not allowed to compete with safari on the iphone and microsoft is forced to split IE from the OS.

    Its about time that the game is played FAIR.

    Microsoft has unfairly been the target for too long while Apple has continually been allowed to do the same nonsense.

    itunes and quicktime for windows sucks.

"Call immediately. Time is running out. We both need to do something monstrous before we die." -- Message from Ralph Steadman to Hunter Thompson