Yet another uncomfortable admission Google (GOOG) has to make about its relationship with Apple: Google said for the second time in a week that it had invested time and money in creating an iPhone app, only to have it rejected by Apple (AAPL).
This time, it’s a Google Voice app that Apple snubbed. Google Voice is an Internet phone service that includes free calling, text messaging, intelligent call routing, etc. Last week, Google admitted that Apple rejected an app for its Latitude social networking service, which Google later launched as a Web site.
Now, a Google rep tells TechCrunch:
“We work hard to bring Google applications to a number of mobile platforms, including the iPhone. Apple did not approve the Google Voice application we submitted six weeks ago to the Apple App Store. We will continue to work to bring our services to iPhone users — for example, by taking advantage of advances in mobile browsers.”
Again, this is Apple’s App Store, and it can do whatever it pleases — period. We have no doubt it has allowed itself plenty of leeway in its terms of service to block apps that compete with its carrier partners. And Google Voice competes with carriers in several ways, technically and behaviorally: For instance, it’s encouraged that you start giving your Google Voice number out as your primary number.
So this is not a matter of fair or foul, or good or bad, or Apple’s stifling innovation. This is Apple’s phone, and Apple’s best bet is to defer to its carrier partners, which help it sell millions of phones each quarter. (And not enough people are going to swear off the iPhone for Google Voice that it would matter to Apple, anyway.)
But legit or not, we can’t help but think that this is the kind of anti-competitive activity that might eventually get Apple’s exclusive App Store scrutinized by anti-trust authorities.
And there’s no way this is building a better relationship with Google.
Apple, as a reminder, had been a company supposedly so close to Google that the government has sniffed around for collusion. But the companies are increasingly competitive, as Google develops a rival mobile operating system, Android; and a new, rival desktop operating system, Chrome OS.
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