While many pundits in the telephony space were busy pointing fingers and naming villains in the wake of Apple’s rejection of Google’s iPhone app for Google Voice, the real winner in the current scenario, Skype, continued to rack up millions of minutes that could have been destined for Google and, strangely enough, AT&T.
Skype is already arguably the world’s largest telephone company, originating and terminating more worldwide telephony minutes than any other service provider, and Google has its sights set firmly on Skype with Google Voice, an IP-based telephony service that also offers SMS, voicemail transcription and legendary Google organizing tools that will one day change the way people use telephones.
The first blush of reaction to the news that Apple determined Google Voice “replicates functionality already available on the iPhone” — a piece posted Monday night at TechCrunch and parroted widely by others Tuesday — labeled AT&T as the likely culprit behind Apple’s mystifying rejection of the Google app.
But that’s clearly wrong since AT&T would only benefit from people using Google Voice on iPhones: in order to make and receive Google Voice calls users must first connect through the PSTN (AT&T’s network) in order to tap into Google servers that route voice signals over the Internet.
Some could see the rejection as evidence Google and Apple are feuding over something else, perhaps Google’s Android mobile operating system that could one day be – but isn’t yet – competitive with Apple’s iPhone OS. Given the two companies are largely silent on the matter, and given that Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt sits on Apple’s Board of Directors, any ruminations about a feud there are purely speculative.
Any way you slice it, however, Apple seems to have made a big misstep here. It’s taking a big PR hit for rejecting an app many people would have been drawn to; cutting its carrier partner AT&T out of the picture for revenue that would have accrued from users of the Google Voice app can’t sit well with the bean counters at the phone company; and keeping VoIP giant Skype comfortably in position as the kingpin of mobile VoIP services, well it just seems odd coming from a company that used to Think Different.