For those keeping a close eye on the whole Apple/AT&T/Google Voice deal, several things may soon change. After the FCC poked their heads on the problem, AT&T and Apple finally revealed that damning clause in their partnership contract. Both AT&T and Apple have now said their big iPhone contract forbids VOIP applications from reaching the App Store unless AT&T agrees to them.
In a letter from AT&T to the FCC, AT&T’s James W. Cicconi wrote that:
“The parties’ willingness and ability to assume the risk of their investments in the iPhone and of their pricing strategy were predicated, in significant part, on certain assumptions about the monthly service revenues that would be generated by iPhone users. In particular, both parties required assurances that the revenues from the AT&T voice plans available to iPhone customers would not be reduced by enabling VoIP calling functionality on the iPhone.”
Given this, its pretty clear that AT&T did not reject Google Voice from the App Store, Apple did. AT&T obviously did not have to do it since they’re already covered in the “still” binding contract they have with Apple. So now, all liabilities lie within Apple.
Now get this, in order to stay away from further scandals, Apple promised that it will consider Google’s application, but there is a catch. It will accept Google Voice provided that the application connects to the Google Voice server only over Wi-Fi networks. This move could probably appease Google, the Users, and the media.
Relegating the Google Voice mobile app to Wi-Fi use seems like the safest bet for both companies, economically and PR-wise. But still, the question remains, will the users think that this move is going to be enough? Only time, user’s feedbacks and the media will tell.