FCC Launches Inquiry Into Apple’s Rejection of Google Voice on iPhone

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The FCC has launched an inquiry into why Apple rejected Google Voice for the iPhone platform. The Wall Street Journal reported late on Friday that the federal agency has sent letters to Apple, Google, and AT&T asking why Google's own Google Voice app was rejected, and why third party Google Voice apps were pulled earlier this week.

In a statement provided to the Journal, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said the FCC "has a mission to foster a competitive wireless marketplace, protect and empower consumers, and promote innovation and investment. [The letters] reflect the Commission's proactive approach to getting the facts and data necessary to make the best policy decisions."

The agency also wants to know whether or not AT&T was consulted as part of the decision-making process. On July 6th, the FCC had expressed an interest in whether or not relationships between carriers like AT&T and handset developers like Apple present antitrust concerns. Friday's letters are an aspect of that line of investigation from the FCC.

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Comments

Tiger

This is the same FCC that allows single operator cable franchises, enables multiconglomerate mega media companies that shut out all competition in markets who turn around and whiz on their customers while raising their fees while decreasing their service, right?

slaws

Yep, that’d be the one.

daemon

This is the same FCC that allows single operator cable franchises, enables multiconglomerate mega media companies that shut out all competition in markets who turn around and whiz on their customers while raising their fees while decreasing their service, right?

I guess they want to make sure Apple’s just like all the other multiconglomerate mega media companies that have been shutting out competition in markets and turning around and whizing on ther customers while raising their fees and decreasing their service….

Tiger

Hmm. Shutting out Microsoft? Yahoo? WalMart?

Or do you mean Nokia, Palm, Samsung?

Paramount, Universal, BMG?

Who exactly has been shut out of the media market, the smartphone market, and how the heck did Apple do that with now 2 models of phones versus the HUNDREDS available from other smartphone makers? It’s not like Apple controls the global market. They have yet to even crack into China, have barely made a dent in India selling a mere 250,000 iPhones, and yet they control the market somehow?

My cost went DOWN with AT&T when I gave up my Samsung phone and my service tripled. I guess my results are not typical, but since I use my personal iPhone daily for myself AND my work without compensation, I find it an extremely useful device that far exceeds the convenience over cost factor.

daemon

Who exactly has been shut out of the media market, the smartphone market, and how the heck did Apple do that with now 2 models of phones versus the HUNDREDS available from other smartphone makers? It?s not like Apple controls the global market. They have yet to even crack into China, have barely made a dent in India selling a mere 250,000 iPhones, and yet they control the market somehow?

You’re funny. You throw down a toss away comment without any supporting evidence and then when I toss one right back, you demand proof.

Here’s an example of Apple not playing fair: iTunes. They don’t license their proprietary DRM scheme to any other media player and have been going out of their way to make sure that iTunes does not sync with third party media devices.

Tiger

I wouldn’t call rhetorical questions a demand for proof, but if you want one that does, do you mean same as Sony did with their proprietary music format that only syncs with devices they choose?

My beef with the FCC is selective enforcement.

Game console makers have LONG made proprietary formats to block out competition or control development on their platforms, yet there was no regulation or enforcement there, even after they went online.

So, why now with Apple and it’s two single model iPhones? Who is complaining so loudly to the FCC that they can’t compete, Sony? Samsung? Motorola? It smacks of hypocrisy to target one company in an industry that is fraught with inconsistent regulation.

finally

Tiger, you should feel better now, because it’s not selective enforcement.  For one, this isn’t a formal inquiry as the headline on macobserver makes it seem.  And there obviously hasn’t been anything enforced.  Second, it’s part of a large round of reviews the FCC is doing on the entire industry, all the networks along with the exclusive contracts are being reviewed. 

“The letters, which are not formal investigations, come as the agency conducts separate reviews of the overall competitiveness of the wireless industry. The FCC is looking into the exclusive partnerships between carriers and cellphone makers, such as the relationship between Sprint Nextel and Palm, for example.

Consumer groups and smaller carriers have complained that such agreements limit choices for consumers and stifle competition because smaller operators aren’t able to strike deals for the latest and fastest phones. The agency is also reviewing rules for how prices are set for cellphone service providers that lease landline networks from telecom carriers and for roaming deals between carriers. Some regional carriers say the national carriers only agree to deals that are too expensive or offer too little coverage.”

I for one am very happy this is happening.  I’m sick of Apple making unilateral decisions about which applications my iPhone can run simply to reinforce their position of taking more of my money.  It hurts me to not be able to run Skype, or Google Voice apps on my phone.  It’s all about the exclusive contract and the kickbacks that Apple is taking from AT&T.  Good for Apple, Bad for the Consumer.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Two reasons I don’t have an iPhone: AT&T and the App Store gestapo. The latter is also the reason we’ve gone the web app direction rather than making a native application. Yes, it’s Apple’s platform, but I wish Apple every bit of grief in inserting itself between developers and users as it has with the App Store. These FCC letters elicit a smug “heh” from me.

daemon

Game console makers have LONG made proprietary formats to block out competition or control development on their platforms, yet there was no regulation or enforcement there, even after they went online.

Huh, yet third party developers never had a problem developing titles for the consoles, even Nintendo had pornographic titles for the NES such as Hot Slot released and published by Panesian LTD. in 1991.

Your assertion is false.

Hot Slot

Glad you shared what games you own daemon…

Tiger

My assertion is not false, I think you misunderstood it. Wii games don’t play on X-Box and vice versa. Why hasn’t the FCC come down on Microsoft and Nintendo, etc., about that? Their games are online, the can utilize the same public bandwidth that is now the apparent source of contention. It had nothing to do with pornographic content, I’m not sure where you inferred that from.

And Bosco, we all know you are not a fan of Apple’s or AT&T. No surprise there. At least you realize that it is Apple’s platform. And yes, Apple likes to control its platform in the name of user experience. I for one am glad somebody gives a damn. I’m willing to pay for that experience. Not everybody is. That’s life.

It’s obviously not for everybody (neither was IRIX or Solaris for that matter when it comes to platforms) and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Apple seems to have found a formula that works for enough people to let them bank major money and become a successful American corporation when so many businesses are in trouble.

More than enough developers have found a way to work within the framework and the rules to create the more than 50,000 (probably closer to 60k by now) apps that are already available. For an app store that is yet to turn 2 years old.

And for disclosure purposes, I don’t work for Apple and sold all my stock 5 years ago. I work in education. And my service with AT&T is marginal sometimes here in my hometown. But I do like my phone.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Slight correction: Bosco is a fan of Apple, is not a mindless fanboy. But Tiger, you’re right. Apple really let the user experience on the Mac get out of control by allowing developers to ship software without Apple’s approval. It’s a damn good thing I have my iPod Touch for browsing blogs, because my Mac is beyond unusable at this point. (That was ironic.)

duh

Wii games don?t play on X-Box and vice versa. Why hasn?t the FCC come down on Microsoft and Nintendo, etc., about that?

Because Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo don’t prevent software authors from releasing applications on their platform.  EA can develop their football game and then compile it for both the PlayStation and the XBOX and release it to the public (the Wii isn’t a great console for that game, but I could probably find some game that is on all 3 systems if I cared enough). 

Apple, on the otherhand, selectively prevents software authors from offering their applications to the public on their platform.  At time, it seemingly does so solely for their own financial benefit, perhaps in collusion with AT&T, and in such a way that it harms consumers.

What you have to see here is there is a difference between an application compiled for one platform not working on another platform, and a platform producer preventing and application producer from selling their product on the platform.  Everyone understands that a Windows Mobile application won’t work on an iPhone and vice versa, what’s wrong is Apple saying that software producers can’t port their Windows Mobile app to the iPhone because they want you to pay AT&T for voice service instead of using data, like in the blocking of Skype & Google Voice applications.

daemon

My assertion is not false, I think you misunderstood it. Wii games don?t play on X-Box and vice versa.

You mean like how a Win32 binary won’t execute under OS X? Because they were designed and compiled for a completely different platform? Yea, I don’t expect to be able to run Axis & Allies on OS X. Just like I don’t expect to be able to take a Wii game disc and stick it in an Xbox and have it play.

they want you to pay AT&T for voice service instead of using data, like in the blocking of Skype & Google Voice applications.

Um.. Google Voice does not do Voice over IP.

Scott B in DC

Here?s an example of Apple not playing fair: iTunes. They don?t license their proprietary DRM scheme to any other media player and have been going out of their way to make sure that iTunes does not sync with third party media devices.

Let me clue you in… LIFE ISN’T FAIR!

Where does it say that Apple has to share iTunes? It’s their technology, why should they share it? If Apple wants to create its own ecosystem and keep others out of it, then they have that right. You may want them to “license” their intellectual property, but there is no reason they have to be fair!

Also, AT&T creates cellular network. All they have to do is provide access to their network for cellular-based services. If AT&T does not want that bandwidth on their network, there is really nothing the FCC or any government organization can do. The FCC can rattle its sabers but is powerless to do anything. If they try, AT&T can take the government to court, have the decision stayed, and fight it to the Supreme Court, if necessary. That will take 3-5 years. By then, the case will be pointless.

oops

Um.. Google Voice does not do Voice over IP.

Yeah, I haven’t even really looked at their app honestly.  The anti-competitive point still stands even if the specific functionality I mentioned only applies to skype.  What IS Apple’s reasoning for removing the Google app?  I can’t see anyway in which allowing the software developer to offer their app to the public is bad for the consumer.

daemon

Where does it say that Apple has to share iTunes?

Antitrust law.

Let me clue you in? LIFE ISN?T FAIR!

Yea, but then, that’s why we have government.

clued in

Let me clue you in? LIFE ISN?T FAIR!

Where does it say that Apple has to share iTunes? It?s their technology, why should they share it? If Apple wants to create its own ecosystem and keep others out of it, then they have that right. You may want them to ?license? their intellectual property, but there is no reason they have to be fair!

Let me clue you in.  Life isn’t fair, but we have laws against not playing fair in the marketplace. It’s called the Sherman Antitrust Act.  The same laws that say Microsoft can’t use their position in the OS market as leverage in the Browser market say that Apple cannot use their position in the Music Download market as leverage in Portable Music Player market.

Scott B in DC

Let me clue you in.? Life isn?t fair, but we have laws against not playing fair in the marketplace. It?s called the Sherman Antitrust Act.? The same laws that say Microsoft can?t use their position in the OS market as leverage in the Browser market say that Apple cannot use their position in the Music Download market as leverage in Portable Music Player market.

Apple is not preventing anyone from entering the market. They are not preventing AT&T from selling services. They have their market and anyone else is welcome to compete. If you actually read Sherman, it talks about stifling competition, not access to their intellectual property. This is why Microsoft has never been found guilty under Sherman!

There is no violation of trust and there is no anti-competitive aspects of what Apple is doing.

Apple has to play fair by allowing others to compete and not forcing AT&T to use only their devices and services. You may say that exclusive agreements are a violation under Sherman, but iTunes is not.

Try reading the law and the case studies to understand what you are commenting on before you do. It is not as simple as citing a single law.

cluing you in now

Okay, I can see you have no interest in doing anything but pushing the Apple agenda here.  You bring a totally separate issue of iTunes without even understanding what you are talking about.  Nobody wants apple to give up the IP that is iTunes, it’s not even iTunes that issue is about, it’s the DRM technology that Apple refuses to license to device manufacturers.  I don’t know why I’m bothering to feed the troll on this off-topic issue anyways, so I’ll stop now.

Scott B in DC

Okay, I can see you have no interest in doing anything but pushing the Apple agenda here.

I am not pushing anyone’s agenda except mine. Apple will license Fair Play to anyone who wants it. Nobody asked to license Fair Play.

As for you insult, look in the mirror before you make this kind of comment again. I hope it does not break in the process!

xmattingly

This is the same FCC that allows single operator cable franchises, enables multiconglomerate mega media companies that shut out all competition in markets who turn around and whiz on their customers while raising their fees while decreasing their service, right?

Ha, I think Tiger hit the hypocritical nail on the head. smile

I’ll tell you one thing - and I know this is getting slightly off track of topic - I’m pretty miffed about my cable company… 3 times in less than a year, they’ve suddenly and drastically raised the price of my service, without warning. When I’ve called to complain, they back it down to roughly my original rate on what they term “a special limited time rate”. Yeah, the FCC would definitely make better use of our tax dollars elsewhere.

daemon

I am not pushing anyone?s agenda except mine. Apple will license Fair Play to anyone who wants it. Nobody asked to license Fair Play

My god, you haven’t a clue about what you’re talking about. Everyone asked Apple to License Fair Play, there are numerous articles written about Steve Jobs refusing to license Fair Play and his reasons behind that. Apple is currently in an antitrust case in the European Union because of this!

Scott, if you can’t bother to educate yourself a tiny little bit about Apple’s corporate practices than what are you doing talking about ehat they have or have not done?

xmattingly

More than enough developers have found a way to work within the framework and the rules to create the more than 50,000 (probably closer to 60k by now) apps that are already available.

That’s true. In fact, I think part of the reason the iPhone is so popular with developers - asides from the popularity of the platform - is that Apple has pretty much given them free reign to market their stuff and set their own pricing within the App Store. And that’s getting to be more the case with the ability to offer micropayments in 3.0.

My god, you haven?t a clue about what you?re talking about. Everyone asked Apple to License Fair Play, there are numerous articles written about Steve Jobs refusing to license Fair Play and his reasons behind that.

Here is some “education” for you: over two years ago, Steve Jobs succinctly stated why licensing a security encryption to other companies is a bad idea, and a reminder that Apple was against DRM to begin with:

http://www.apple.com/hotnews/thoughtsonmusic/

Just a sidebar here: would all you losers who are using these cutesy one-off screen names like “clue you in” knock it off?? If you’re a regular visitor and have something to say, grow a pair and sign up for a free membership: put your comments under one screen name, instead of hiding behind your guest pass.

Tiger

It’s Sunday, the weekend’s over and this conversation got way too heavy. It’s time we lighten up and have a laugh.

http://xkcd.com/527/

xmattingly

That’s a good one! smile

what planet do you live on?

I am not pushing anyone?s agenda except mine. Apple will license Fair Play to anyone who wants it. Nobody asked to license Fair Play.

Seriously, your agenda is apparently to distort the truth in such a way that makes Apple look good.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FairPlay#Legal_issues

They won’t let device manufacturers or music service providers license Fair Play.  Stop lying.

all good

Here is some ?education? for you: over two years ago, Steve Jobs succinctly stated why licensing a security encryption to other companies is a bad idea

Sure, that’s all well and good.  They have their reasons, and their marketing for their reasons.  There is probably some overlap between the two.  But to say that they will license it is clearly false, as you can see by the thoughtsonmusic letter, Scott B in DC has serious reality distortion going on.

xmattingly

But to say that they will license it is clearly false, as you can see by the thoughtsonmusic letter

What the heck are you talking about? It’s right there in the letter, offered as one alternative.

Seriously, your agenda is apparently to distort the truth in such a way that makes Apple look good.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FairPlay#Legal_issues

You quoted a four year old lawsuit that is effectively dead in the water now. In fact, the 2nd paragraph of your link cites a legal rejection of that anti-trust claim, for almost exactly the same reasons that Jobs spelled out why DRM licensing is a bad idea in his letter.

Either way, whether or not Fair Play should be licensed is pretty much a dead issue now. Apple was forced to use that encryption with the Big Four as part of their original agreement, and since they’re now offering a large volume of music DRM-free and record companies can charge more than 99??per song on the iTunes store, they seem to have found a compromise.

Regardless of anyone’s POV, at least Scott B has the conviction to stand behind his comments, using his own Mac Observer user account.

Apple Refuses to License FairPlay

What the heck are you talking about? It?s right there in the letter, offered as one alternative.

Scott tried to say that Apple will license FairPlay, but nobody has asked to license FairPlay.  The letter you linked along with lawsuits show that be false.

As Steve Jobs himself wrote in the letter, “Apple has concluded that if it licenses FairPlay to others, it can no longer guarantee to protect the music it licenses from the big four music companies.”

So to say that Apple WILL license FairPlay is clearly false.  Scott B has conviction sure, but it’s a lie to say that Apple is willing to license FairPlay when other companies as to pay Apple for such a license.

Apple Refuses

xmattingly, I don’t know if you have read the entire letter or not, but after discussing licensing FairPlay, Apple says they will not do it.

Scott believe that, “Apple will license Fair Play to anyone who wants it. Nobody asked to license Fair Play.”

Obviously, not true.

xmattingly

Scott tried to say that Apple will license FairPlay, but nobody has asked to license FairPlay.?The letter you linked along with lawsuits show that be false.

As Steve Jobs himself wrote in the letter, ?Apple has concluded that if it licenses FairPlay to others, it can no longer guarantee to protect the music it licenses from the big four music companies.?

So to say that Apple WILL license FairPlay is clearly false.

You’re drawing your own foregone conclusions.
1. Those lawsuits amounted to nothing. Proof opposite your POV was there in the French court case, which rejected anti-trust claims based on reasons already explained to you.
2. Jobs nor Apple have never said they WOULD NOT license FairPlay; only that they can’t guarantee DRM security when it’s licensed to hundreds of other parties.

Show everyone here a SINGLE court case where Apple has lost an anti-trust claim over FairPlay or iTunes, and you will have proven your point. Otherwise, you’re beating a dead horse.

And yes, we who post under our own screen names have conviction. Repeat visitors who do not are trolls.

sure

Yeah, of course the opposite must be concluded.  When a company sues another company in order to license a product, they clearly don’t want to use it ever…  Virigin Media never wanted to use FairPlay, you’re all right.

having a static screen name doesn’t prevent trollish behavior, even those with static names like daemon know Scott is clueless.

xmattingly

Yeah, of course the opposite must be concluded.? When a company sues another company in order to license a product, they clearly don?t want to use it ever?? Virigin Media never wanted to use FairPlay, you?re all right.

having a static screen name doesn?t prevent trollish behavior, even those with static names like daemon know Scott is clueless

Who cares? Unless Apple was either forced to pay a settlement or license their software through litigation, your argument doesn’t hold any water.

Anonymous posting is a coward’s business. Can’t make a case for your opinion, you want to bad mouth others in the thread but you don’t want anyone to know who you are. You are what you is.

get a clue

Show everyone here a SINGLE court case where Apple has lost an anti-trust claim over FairPlay or iTunes, and you will have proven your point. Otherwise, you?re beating a dead horse.

You don’t get the point.  The simple fact that the court cases exist prove that people wanted to license FairPlay.  Whether or not they lose the case doesn’t matter, that’s just a legal matter.

Scott was completely wrong when he said, “Apple will license Fair Play to anyone who wants it. Nobody asked to license Fair Play.”  That is clearly false.  The fact that Apple has been sued PROVES that people wanted to license FairPlay.

xmattingly

Whether or not they lose the case doesn?t matter, that?s just a legal matter.

The fact that Apple has been sued PROVES that people wanted to license FairPlay.

When you’re talking business transactions and the sharing of certain technologies, legality IS an issue. So what if there are other businesses that wanted to license Fair Play? I would love nothing more than for you to drop dead and quit ninny-picking over a dead argument. But, what I want and what I’m legally entitled to are completely separate issues; neither of which seem to be within your grasp conceptually.

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