How I Got the Google Voice/App Store Story Wrong

As I mentioned in my piece Friday on Apple’s response to the FCC’s Google Voice App Store inquiry, I got an important aspect of the story wrong in my initial coverage. On 28 July, in a piece in which I initially speculated that Apple’s decision might have been founded on competitive grounds against Google, I then posted the following update:

Well, so much for my speculation. A reliable little birdie has informed me that it was indeed AT&T that objected to Google Voice apps for the iPhone. It’s that simple.

Later that day, I linked to a piece by Om Malik wherein he speculated — correctly it turns out — that AT&T had no role in Apple’s decision. I wrote:

Leaving aside my information from an informed source that it was indeed AT&T that got Google Voice pulled from the App Store, Malik’s reasoning does make sense.

But, trust me, it was AT&T’s decision. And this is not the first time AT&T has treated the iPhone differently than other phones they carry. Remember the SlingPlayer app? At AT&T’s behest, the iPhone version was restricted to Wi-Fi, despite the fact that the BlackBerry version works over 3G.

However, according to both Apple’s and AT&T’s responses to the FCC inquiry, AT&T in fact played no role and was not consulted in Apple’s decision not to publish Google Voice apps for the iPhone.

So either my source lied to me, or he was wrong. Over the weekend I’ve exchanged a few emails with my source, so that I can explain what happened.

My source did not (and would have no reason to) lie to me. He was wrong. What happened is that his source for the information, who had direct knowledge of Apple’s decision, told him, more or less, simply that Apple did not reject the Google Voice app.

My source interpreted this as meaning that if Apple did not reject it, AT&T must have, because if not AT&T, who else? It’s about the difference between:

We didn’t reject it.”

and:

“We didn’t reject it.”

In other words, Apple’s internal stance on Google Voice was, back on July 28, pretty much exactly what they stated in their response to the FCC on Friday:

Contrary to published reports, Apple has not rejected the Google Voice application, and continues to study it.

I agree with many of you that this is semantic hair-splitting on Apple’s part, insofar as from an iPhone user’s perspective, there is no difference between a rejected iPhone app and a not-published iPhone app. But it does explain how my source, and therefore I, got it wrong.

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