Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Today the news came out that Apple has removed all Google Voice-related apps (including one from Google) from their App Store for iPhones. OK, that's a lot of buzz words, but what does it mean? It means that Apple has told Google and others that they're not allowed to write apps that customize the iPhone for use with Google Voice (hereafter GV). This would have included making calls from your GV number, making calls through the GV international calling plan and easing access to GV voicemail and other services.
Apple has been playing this game with Google ever since the release of Goolge's phone platform, Android, but today's move might well be the last straw for consumers. Google Voice is an extremely popular service right now, and I don't see any competing offering coming from Apple any time soon. Users want email transcription, numbers that ring multiple phones, call screening and all of the other features that come with GV. They don't want to hear "Apple doesn't think you should get that."
I know that this cements my departure from Apple products, though to be fair it was their treatment of Google Talk and Latitude that had me pretty much over the fence, especially after the disastrous launch of the Google Latitude Web app that has iPhone users looking over their Blackberry and Android-using friends' shoulders. I won't be extending my iPhone contract, not out of protest, but simple pragmatism. I can't afford to use a second-class device, and with the release of phones like the insanely sweet Sony Ericsson Xperia X3, HTC Hero and even the low-end phones that HTC and Motorola are about to push out, that will certainly be where the iPhone finds itself. Without access to Google's apps (which they're willing to hand to whoever want them, mind you), the iPhone is going to stop being the phone that technophiles like myself urge their less-savvy friends to use, but it's not all about Google. They're just getting more press than most of the companies whose apps get kicked out of the App Store for varying and seemingly arbitrary reasons.
In the past couple of years, I've probably convinced ten or more of my friends and relatives to buy iPhones either directly or just by example. What happens when people like myself stop using it, and move to more open platforms like Android? Has Apple seriously considered where this is leading?