By Adam Pash, Lifehacker
Apple just rejected the Google Voice iPhone application from App Store distribution, the most recent in a long line of questionable moves, and the message is clear: If you want a device that won't lock you out of innovation, skip the iPhone.
Lest We Forget
There's no question that this brilliant little piece of hardware has sparked a revolution in the world of mobile computing and cell phones, and, likewise, there's no question that consumers have benefited from that. I've been a believer in the iPhone from the start (hell, I even co-wrote a book on the stupid thing), but despite all the missteps Apple has made along the way, it always at least seemed plausible that they were holding out on apps or making unpopular decisions with some sort of good reason. (That was probably always willful ignorance, and Apple's culture of secrecy just makes it that much easier to assume there's some Very Special Reason for their bad decisions.) Still, I've never regretted buying an iPhone until now.
Most people have speculated that Google Voice was rejected from the App Store at AT&T's behest. The reason? Apple's official line is that Google Voice duplicates features already on the iPhone—namely the Phone and Messages app. Of course, none of that holds water, considering the App Store is already full of alternate SMS apps and apps like Skype that sport a telephone dialer.
So what separates Google Voice from the other, already-approved tools that offer similar features to the iPhone's default apps? As far as we can tell, the main issue is competition. AT&T doesn't see Joe Schmoe's SMS Big Keyboard Deluxe (it's a real app) as much of a threat to the colossal ripoff that is text messaging, for example, but people may actually want to use Google Voice.
From another angle, Apple only seems concerned with duplication of features if an application competes with an app that they already made. If you're competing with another non-default third-party application, you can go and duplicate all you want (hence the oft-cited Fart apps). Still, if a Google Voice app actually does duplicate the functions of the telephone/SMS applications that ship with the iPhone, I want to know how I can use my iPhone to check my Google Voice inbox, send messages via Google Voice, or get my voicemails transcribed with what Apple and AT&T are offering. And do not send me to a crappy iPhone 1.0 webapp.
The real problem, then, is that Google Voice, and all it offers, is actually much better than what AT&T offers.