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paidContent - Update: AT&T Says It Did Not Block Google App; Apple Says It Acted Alone

This story was written by Tricia Duryee.

In response to an FCC inquiry, AT&T (NYSE: T) is claiming it did not participate in the decision that led to the rejection of the Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Voice application from the iPhone, Reuters reports. UPDATE: Likewise, Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) said today in a statement on their web site that it acted alone and did not consult with AT&T on whether to approve the Google Voice application. Furthermore, it claims that “contrary to published reports, Apple has not rejected the Google Voice application, and continues to study it.”

Engagdet has a copy of Google’s response, and while it does provide answers to some of the FCC’s questions it redacts the one everyone wants to hear about—what explanation (if any) did Apple give for rejecting the Google Voice app and to generally describe any communications between the two companies on the subject.

About three weeks ago, a firestorm of media attention arose after the Google Voice application was banned from the iPhone. Blame was placed on AT&T, then on Apple, and then back on AT&T.

In a statement, AT&T is crystal clear on the matter: “Let me state unequivocally, AT&T had no role in any decision by Apple to not accept the Google Voice application for inclusion in the Apple App Store,” said Jim Cicconi, AT&T senior executive vice president for external and legislative affairs. “AT&T was not asked about the matter by Apple at any time, nor did it offer any view one way or the other.”

In Apple’s long response to the FCC, it seems to be asking for some leniency. “Were covering new ground and doing things that had never been done before. Many of the issues we face are difficult and new, and while we may make occasional mistakes, we try to learn from them and continually improve.” It also maintains that it continues to maintain its rate of approving 95% of applications within 14 days of their submission.

On July 31, the FCC sent letters to the three companies seeking additional information over the matter. Responses were due today from all companies.

Mostly critics were suspicious with AT&T, thinking they wanted the app banned because it would potentially compete for its business of offering voice minutes to customers. But then, others considered Apple behind the decision because they were potentially developing a competing service. Either way, you were hard pressed to find any sort of official statement on the matter. Simply put, the application was rejected because it “duplicates features that come with the iPhone.”

Apple’s silence on the matter became even more difficult to understand as the weeks progressed—Apple’s SVP Phil Schiller quickly tried to repair the company’s image when it came to their App Store policies, by personally investigating accusations by others and reaching out directly to developers and bloggers at least twice.

Regardless, now with at least two investigations by the FCC brewing, it seems like there will be a bit more transparency.


By Tricia Duryee
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