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Why AT&T Killed iPhone Google Voice

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the doesn't-take-a-genius dept.

Cellphones 304

ZuchinniOne writes "The Wall Street Journal has a very interesting article about the likely reasons that AT&T and Apple killed the Google Voice application. 'With Google Voice, you have one Google phone number that callers use to reach you, and you pick up whichever phone — office, home or cellular — rings. You can screen calls, listen in before answering, record calls, read transcripts of your voicemails, and do free conference calls. Domestic calls and texting are free, and international calls to Europe are two cents a minute. In other words, a unified voice system, something a real phone company should have offered years ago.'"

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No. (5, Insightful)

blhack (921171) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151295)

AT&T killed google voice because the "Killer App" that the iPhone has (visual voicemail) is completely, totally, and utterly DESTROYED by it.

If you haven't used google voice, let me explain. Somebody leaves you a voicemail on your GV number. Google does voice recognition on it, and sends you an email of the text. In the email is a little widget that allows you to play the audio.

Apparently, the visual voice mail was a HUGELY expensive undertaking for AT&T. Having somebody offer *the* reason to get an iPhone for *free* is really, really scary to them.

Google offered a superior product for infinitely (as in divide by zero) cheaper. AT&T shat their pants, and blocked it.

Re:No. (5, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151343)

Having somebody offer *the* reason to get an iPhone for *free* is really, really scary to them.

Google can give me a sense of superiority and belonging to the "in" crowd for *free*?

Apple Just Admitted To It - Now You Look Foolish (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29151427)

Apple just admitted that it was them and not AT&T.

http://www.apple.com/hotnews/apple-answers-fcc-questions/?sr=hotnews.rss [apple.com]

So much for all that crap you just wrote.

It will be funny to see all the Apple fanboys who were screaming "It was big bad AT&T and not my PRECIOUS Apple who was the bad guy!!!" and how their fanboy minds deal with this news.

Man, Apple couldn't possibly be blowing it more than they are. Google Voice is amazing.

Google Voice Is Incredible (5, Insightful)

MediaStreams (1461187) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151495)

Apple blocking Google Voice makes buying an iPhone not even a possiblity now that I have had Google Voice for a month or so.

I know many of these features have existed in other products, but that doesn't change the fact that Google Voice has been as big a lifestyle change as getting TiVo for the first time 7 or 8 years ago.

* The voice mail transcripts are my favorite thing. Perfectly accurate so far. Love being able to read voice mails right from my computer

* Free SMS in a GMail like interface

* Everyone now has my Google Number and all my phones are unified behind that single number and I am now completely free to pick up and switch to a new cellphone as the flood of Android phones come out over the next year

Re:Google Voice Is Incredible (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 4 years ago | (#29152005)

* The voice mail transcripts are my favorite thing. Perfectly accurate so far.

It sounds like you have normal friends. The voice mail transcripts I receive look like total gibberish to me (not that listening to the voice version is that much better, I think the problem is that many of my friends have ADD).

Re:Google Voice Is Incredible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29152037)

The voice mail transcripts with Google Voice have been 100 percent accurate the since I first started using the service.

It even managed to nail a drunken voice message from a girl sitting right in front of me. It even got all the rambling sluring non-words right so they phonetically sounded like a drunk chic.

And I love the light to bold confidence level even though so far it hasn't been actually required.

Apple did the right thing. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29151571)

Shows what you know, Mr. Anonymous Coward! I don't usually respond to ACs, but I will anyway, Mr Anonymous smarty man!

I don't see anything that did wrong here. You see, Apple had some very good reaosns for what they did. It was an obvious move on their part to continually provide their superior service along with their superior products - it's worth paying what they charge because they're superior and they are cheaper in the long run. We all know that they offer the best overall value - that include TCO. Obviously, the deal with AT&T would have caused us Apple iPhone users some hardship and it would have cost us money. Considering this business decision I think it pretty obvious that Apple did it to protect their outstanding reputation, brand, their outstanding technology that no one else offers, and their customers.

You can post all the press releases you want and spin it to show that Apple is out to screw us fanboys over by gouging us for (mistakenly) commodity hardware in a pretty case - lies I tell you! That's just not so!

Whatever man! I have some great tunes that I need to transfer from my 17" MacBook Pro over to my iPod. I need to take a shower and put on a fresh black turtleneck and put on my Friday night arty glasses because I'm going out with my boys - there's a great show tonight with lots of show tunes. You're not going to wreck my mood!

Re:Apple did the right thing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29151705)

lol meltdown

LOL! Where's Your God Now Apple Fanbois? (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29151581)

The hottest cellphone app being blocked by your beloved Apple!

Don't cry emo assclowns, you still your iFart and I'm Rich iPhone apps...

It gets even better (4, Interesting)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151645)

From Apple's response: "Apple does not know if there is a VoIP element in the way the Google Voice application routes calls and messages, and whether VoIP technology is used over the 3G network by the application."

So Apple "does not know" what Google Voice does, they just need to "ponder" it some more.

I wonder how FCC officials like being treated like idiots. Hopefully Apple is about to find out.

iFCCResponse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29151699)

The Apple response is so funny it is hard to believe it is real. It sounds like something someone would type up mocking Apple like this famous fake ad:

http://cache.gizmodo.com/gadgets/images/iProduct.gif [gizmodo.com]

But instead it is some hilariously fake iFCCResponse.gif

Still could have contributed (4, Interesting)

ruiner13 (527499) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151907)

Ok, maybe I'm reading too much into it, but this part:

Apple alone makes the final decisions to approve or not approve iPhone applications.

There is a provision in Apple's agreement with AT&T that obligates Apple not to include functionality in any Apple phone that enables a customer to use AT&T's cellular network service to originate or terminate a VoIP session without obtaining AT&T's permission. Apple honors this obligation, in addition to respecting AT&T's customer Terms of Service, which, for example, prohibit an AT&T customer from using AT&T's cellular service to redirect a TV signal to an iPhone. From time to time, AT&T has expressed concerns regarding network efficiency and potential network congestion associated with certain applications, and Apple takes such concerns into consideration.

Makes it seem like though they didn't actually talk to AT&T about Google Voice, they could have anticipated their reaction on the matter, leading to where we are today.

Re:Still could have contributed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29151983)

Well seeing as how the call isn't VoIP between the phone and Google it wouldn't fall under the agreement to not approve VoIP apps like Skype without AT&T's OK. Google does use VoIP in their process, but not between the phone and Google so it doesn't use the scary (to ATT) "VoIP over our precious 3 G network".

So instead Apple raises some vague privacy concerns (that aren't their business: they are between the user and Google), and talks about how GV replaces some functionality (makes it better actually).

Very suspicious... (5, Interesting)

Azureflare (645778) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151993)

Ok, this letter looks like doubletalk to me.

For example:

Are there any contractual conditions or non-contractual understandings with AT&T that affected Apple's decision in this matter?

Apple is acting alone and has not consulted with AT&T about whether or not to approve the Google Voice application. No contractual conditions or non-contractual understandings with AT&T have been a factor in Apple's decision-making process in this matter.

Okay, so Apple is saying that no contract with AT&T affected their decision to remove the Google Voice application from the iTunes Store. But wait, what do they say in the _next section_!?

There is a provision in Apple's agreement with AT&T that obligates Apple not to include functionality in any Apple phone that enables a customer to use AT&T's cellular network service to originate or terminate a VoIP session without obtaining AT&T's permission.

WTF?

Then they go into "asscovering mode" by saying they don't know what VOIP is:

Apple does not know if there is a VoIP element in the way the Google Voice application routes calls and messages, and whether VoIP technology is used over the 3G network by the application. Apple has approved numerous standard VoIP applications (such as Skype, Nimbuzz and iCall) for use over WiFi, but not over AT&T's 3G network.

Personally, I don't have a google voice account. From what I've read, google voice actually uses the normal phone system (so it still requires that you have a phone account). It's just a service.

IMO, Apple doesn't have a leg to stand on. The only argument they have is that it replaces "core functionality" of the iPhone. That argument is completely bogus too, because that is just preventing competition (and may be considered monopolistic behavior). Sure, that's not unusual for Apple. But I think now their position is different. They aren't the underdog in the smartphone industry, they are one of the top dogs. They can't just do whatever they want while ignoring existing anti-trust legislation.

Re:Apple Just Admitted To It - Now You Look Foolis (3, Interesting)

Rand310 (264407) | more than 4 years ago | (#29152035)

Most of that was free PR, with a few wiggle-room sentences...

Did you collude with AT&T:
"From time to time, AT&T has expressed concerns regarding network efficiency and potential network congestion associated with certain applications, and Apple takes such concerns into consideration."

Re:No. apple answers fcc (2, Interesting)

jazzmans (622827) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151435)

question 1 answer

Contrary to published reports, Apple has not rejected the Google Voice application, and continues to study it. The application has not been approved because, as submitted for review, it appears to alter the iPhoneâ(TM)s distinctive user experience by replacing the iPhoneâ(TM)s core mobile telephone functionality and Apple user interface with its own user interface for telephone calls, text messaging and voicemail. Apple spent a lot of time and effort developing this distinct and innovative way to seamlessly deliver core functionality of the iPhone. For example, on an iPhone, the âoePhoneâ icon that is always shown at the bottom of the Home Screen launches Appleâ(TM)s mobile telephone application, providing access to Favorites, Recents, Contacts, a Keypad, and Visual Voicemail. The Google Voice application replaces Appleâ(TM)s Visual Voicemail by routing calls through a separate Google Voice telephone number that stores any voicemail, preventing voicemail from being stored on the iPhone, i.e., disabling Appleâ(TM)s Visual Voicemail. Similarly, SMS text messages are managed through the Google hubâ"replacing the iPhoneâ(TM)s text messaging feature. In addition, the iPhone userâ(TM)s entire Contacts database is transferred to Googleâ(TM)s servers, and we have yet to obtain any assurances from Google that this data will only be used in appropriate ways. These factors present several new issues and questions to us that we are still pondering at this time... ..We are continuing to study the Google Voice application and its potential impact on the iPhone user experience. Google is of course free to provide Google Voice on the iPhone as a web application through Appleâ(TM)s Safari browser, just as they do for desktop PCs, or to provide its âoeGoogle-brandedâ user experience on other phones, including Android-based phones, and let consumers make their choices

question 2 answer

Apple is acting alone and has not consulted with AT&T about whether or not to approve the Google Voice application. No contractual conditions or non-contractual understandings with AT&T have been a factor in Appleâ(TM)s decision-making process in this matter.

question 3 answer
      Apple alone makes the final decisions to approve or not approve iPhone applications.

        There is a provision in Appleâ(TM)s agreement with AT&T that obligates Apple not to include functionality in any Apple phone that enables a customer to use AT&Tâ(TM)s cellular network service to originate or terminate a VoIP session without obtaining AT&Tâ(TM)s permission. Apple honors this obligation, in addition to respecting AT&Tâ(TM)s customer Terms of Service, which, for example, prohibit an AT&T customer from using AT&Tâ(TM)s cellular service to redirect a TV signal to an iPhone. From time to time, AT&T has expressed concerns regarding network efficiency and potential network congestion associated with certain applications, and Apple takes such concerns into consideration.

question 4 answer

Apple does not know if there is a VoIP element in the way the Google Voice application routes calls and messages, and whether VoIP technology is used over the 3G network by the application. Apple has approved numerous standard VoIP applications (such as Skype, Nimbuzz and iCall) for use over WiFi, but not over AT&Tâ(TM)s 3G network.

question 5 answer

In a little more than a year, the App Store has grown to become the worldâ(TM)s largest wireless applications store, with over 65,000 applications. Weâ(TM)ve rejected applications for a variety of reasons. Most rejections are based on the application containing quality issues or software bugs, while other rejections involve protecting consumer privacy, safeguarding children from inappropriate content, and avoiding applications that degrade the core experience of the iPhone. Given the volume and variety of technical issues, most of the review process is consumed with quality issues and software bugs, and providing feedback to developers so they can fix applications. Applications that are fixed and resubmitted are approved.... ...Apple provides explicit language in its agreement with iPhone developers regarding prohibited categories of applications, for example:

        * âoeApplications may be rejected if they contain content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, sounds, etc.) that in Appleâ(TM)s reasonable judgment may be found objectionable, for example, materials that may be considered obscene, pornographic, or defamatory; and
        * Applications must not contain any malware, malicious or harmful code, program, or other internal component (e.g. computer viruses, trojan horses, âbackdoorsâ(TM)) which could damage, destroy, or adversely affect other software, firmware, hardware, data, systems, services, or networks.â

And we also provide a reference library that can be accessed by members of the iPhone Developer Program that lists helpful information such as Best Practices and How To Get Started.

question 6 answer

        As discussed in the response to Question 5, Apple provides guidelines to developers in our developer agreement as well as on its web site regarding prohibited categories of applications. These materials also contain numerous other provisions regarding technical and legal requirements that applications must comply with, and Apple uses these standards in considering whether or not to approve applications.

        Apple developed a comprehensive review process that looks at every iPhone application that is submitted to Apple. Applications and marketing text are submitted through a web interface. Submitted applications undergo a rigorous review process that tests for vulnerabilities such as software bugs, instability on the iPhone platform, and the use of unauthorized protocols. Applications are also reviewed to try to prevent privacy issues, safeguard children from exposure to inappropriate content, and avoid applications that degrade the core experience of the iPhone. There are more than 40 full-time trained reviewers, and at least two different reviewers study each application so that the review process is applied uniformly. Apple also established an App Store executive review board that determines procedures and sets policy for the review process, as well as reviews applications that are escalated to the board because they raise new or complex issues. The review board meets weekly and is comprised of senior management with responsibilities for the App Store. 95% of applications are approved within 14 days of being submitted.

        If we find that an application has a problem, for example, a software bug that crashes the application, we send the developer a note describing the reason why the application will not be approved as submitted. In many cases we are able to provide specific guidance about how the developer can fix the application. We also let them know they can contact the app review team or technical support, or they can write to us for further guidance.

        Apple generally spends most of the review period making sure that the applications function properly, and working with developers to fix quality issues and software bugs in applications. We receive about 8,500 new applications and updates every week, and roughly 20% of them are not approved as originally submitted. In little more than a year, we have reviewed more than 200,000 applications and updates.

end answers.

Hey apple.

I WANT MY GOOGLE VOICE APP!

I'm using cydia now to run gv

jaz

AT&T is not really AT&T. (5, Interesting)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151451)

It helps to understand that AT&T is actually the old SBC. The AT&T name was sold [att.com] to SBC. My understanding from talking with former SBC customers is that the SBC trademark had little value because the company was so abusive. So, the SBC managers decided to use another name.

Those interested in how that happened can watch Stephen Colbert explain in a 1 minute 14 second video: The New AT&T [google.com] . If that video is not available, try this one [myspace.com] , but that requires watching a commercial.

AT&T is really AT&T. (4, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151593)

It helps to understand that AT&T is actually the old SBC. The AT&T name was sold to SBC.

SBC, which was originally "Southwest Bell", one of the "baby bells" created by the breakup of AT&T, and which had purchased several other baby bells in the intervening period, in 2005 also purchased AT&T (not just the AT&T name), and applied the AT&T name to the whole post-merger organization.

So, the new AT&T is, very much, the old (pre-1984) AT&T, even more than the 1984-2005 AT&T was.

The original comment is correct in essence. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29151643)

The management is SBC.

Re:AT&T is not really AT&T. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29151745)

It helps to understand that AT&T is actually the old SBC. The AT&T name was sold [att.com] to SBC. My understanding from talking with former SBC customers
is that the SBC trademark had little value because the company was so
abusive. So, the SBC managers decided to use another name.

Are you serious? Even the Spanish Inquisition wouldn't gain popularity by renaming themselves to AT&T. Perhaps they should consider naming themselves NSDAP to seem even less abusive.

Re:AT&T is not really AT&T. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29151829)

Many people are influenced by remembering decades ago when AT&T was a reputable company.

I cry bullshit (4, Interesting)

Linegod (9952) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151669)

The ability to jump to a specific message has been there for a decade, no one took advantage of it (in fact, most disabled it). All they did was create specific calls that navigated the crazy tree for you. Crawl around in a Meridian for a while...

And voice to text has been in almost all carrier grade switches for at least 3 years. Most charge for it, Google didn't.

Re:No. (2, Interesting)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151899)

Not to mention making text-messaging free directly takes away something AT&T currently bills me for.

In all fairness, it should be noted that for years Qwest offered a unified phone service to an extent. You told people to call you on your home phone number, and if you didn't answer, it would auto-roll over to your Qwest cell phone. In theory, you should only end up with voice mails on your cell phone number. But Qwest doesn't even offer their own cell phone service anymore, so who knows if they still offer the roll-over.

Re:No. (4, Interesting)

bastion_xx (233612) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151933)

Visual voicemail is nice, but not a game changer. International long distance rates are a game changer though.

There are *no* mobile carriers that offer competative LD rates. Want to call Bermuda on AT&T? If you have World Connect ($3.99/mo) it's 0.19/min. Googe Voice: 0.09/min. If you don't have World Connect, you're looking at 1.49/min.

I've cut my international costs by over 50%. The only bitch is having to top off Google Voice in $10 increments with a $30 cap.

GV starts to change the way mobile devices are used. I don't care what Apple, AT&T or Google say, I'm convinced the reason is for AT&T to keep control and revenue, and for Apple to keep tabs on the interface.

I like this FCC we have.

Re:No. (5, Informative)

Enry (630) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151979)

AT&T killed google voice because the "Killer App" that the iPhone has (visual voicemail) is completely, totally, and utterly DESTROYED by it.

If you haven't used google voice, let me explain. Somebody leaves you a voicemail on your GV number. Google does voice recognition on it, and sends you an email of the text. In the email is a little widget that allows you to play the audio.

[...]

The voice recognition of GV is about as good as the handwriting recognition of the original Newton.

Here's what my brother actually said:

Hello, Happy Birthday my brother.

What GV said he said:

Hello, The bird say my brought their.

Fortunately, the audio was available, so I was able to easily hear what he said, but the other GV transcript I got from my wife wasn't much better (the drugstore CVS got turned into "we're going to see me yes").

Google Voice is nice, and I like using it, but don't think it's a miracle app.

Re:No. (1)

dfghjk (711126) | more than 4 years ago | (#29152071)

"Apparently, the visual voice mail was a HUGELY expensive undertaking for AT&T."

What makes this apparent to you?

We don't have to care (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151297)

We're the phone company. [slashdot.org]

Re:We don't have to care (3, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151509)

See figure 1 [tmk.com] !

Because this is slashdot (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151729)

I knew that if I posted that line enough times, eventually somebody would dredge the referent back up for me. Thanks for digging out a lost archive from 1992! Great stuff. Now to find the original...

Original source (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151861)

Is claimed to be a work of Steve Friedl et. al. link [broadbandreports.com]

Purported to be derived from "DEC Customer Service Memorandum", which appears to be lost.

That's Why They Are Being Investigated (1)

Kenichi Tanaka (1168171) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151309)

And this is why AT&T and Apple are being investigated by Congress and the Department of Justice.

AT&T denies it (5, Informative)

davebarnes (158106) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151311)

Not a denial (3, Interesting)

ThrowAwaySociety (1351793) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151355)

That statement only says that ATT was not involved directly in the Google Voice decision.

It does not say whether or not ATT had previously bound Apple contractually to reject all apps of this type..

Apple Admits It, Sort Of (5, Informative)

DannyO152 (544940) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151373)

And Apple said today it isn't killed, but still under review because it interferes with the iPhone interface. Here [apple.com] is their rationalization for their actions in what they claim is their response to the FCC.

My thanks to daringfireball and John Gruber for bringing this letter to my attention.

Re:Apple Admits It, Sort Of (-1, Flamebait)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151417)

Apple is quite incredible. But please do queue the mentally retarded fanbois to defend Apple and AT&T. I think appropriate term for fanboi behavior even if it screws over their own ability to use a device they paid a lot of money for as "taking it up the ass for the team."

Re:Apple Admits It, Sort Of (2, Insightful)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151921)

I haven't seen a single AT&T fanboy. It's all Apple 'tards either saying that AT&T is outright lying to the FCC, or that AT&T has some sort of Svengali-like hold over Apple, due to the contracts that they were coerced into signing. They fantasize that somehow the FCC will declare AT&T's tyranny over their beloved Steve Jobs invalid and the real reign of the iPhone will begin with liberty and justice for all. Because Apple wouldn't screw over their own customers, like they have time and time again in the past, would they?

Re:Apple Admits It, Sort Of (1)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151953)

You're gonna have to go far and wide to find someone who's willing to defend AT&T.

Re:Apple Admits It, Sort Of (2, Interesting)

Lars T. (470328) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151501)

And you needed daringfireball because Apple hid the link to it on the fucking main page.

Re:Apple Admits It, Sort Of (3, Funny)

jpmorgan (517966) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151525)

So it sort of went like this:

FCC: Why was Google Voice was rejected from the app store?
Apple: Whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much. It just so happens that Google Voice here is only MOSTLY dead. There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive.

Re:Apple Admits It, Sort Of (4, Funny)

idontgno (624372) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151591)

I swear if Apple starts ranting about a good mutton, lettuce, and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is so nice and lean, and the tomato is ripe... I swear... someone must "prepare to die".

Wall Street Journal (2, Interesting)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151315)

People still read the WSJ? Ever since Fox bought it, the slow decline of the quality and bizarre right wing biases introduced into the articles and editorials began driving me away. It hasn't been readable as a news source for at least a year now.

Re:Wall Street Journal (4, Informative)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151415)

This particular article was pretty good though. Thorough and generally well thought out, it also had that kind of shocked anger of someone who only just realized that they are being taken advantage of. I wouldn't be surprised if the author had started out writing a 'tell both sides of the story' kind of article, only to become more informed on the actual situation over the course of his research.

All that being said, I do take issue with one thing...

Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile and others all joined AT&T in bidding huge amounts for wireless spectrum in FCC auctions, some $70-plus billion since the mid-1990s. That all gets passed along to you and me in the form of higher fees and friendly oligopolies that don't much compete on price.

That is not how business works. If a certain behavior on their part can maximize revenues, they will implement it regardless of what the upfront costs were. If they had paid $10 for the spectrum, they would still charge high fees because that is what the market is willing to bear and that is what they feel with maximize their revenues and with that their profits. You can argue that the cost of spectrum raises the cost of entry into the market, but I don't see that as what the author is going for here.

Good points, bad points (4, Interesting)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151623)

End phone exclusivity. Any device should work on any network. Data flows freely.
In general a good idea, but I'm not quite sure how you get Qualcom CDMA phones to work on a GSM network.

Transition away from "owning" airwaves. As we've seen with license-free bandwidth via Wi-Fi networking, we can share the airwaves without interfering with each other. Let new carriers emerge based on quality of service rather than spectrum owned. Cellphone coverage from huge cell towers will naturally migrate seamlessly into offices and even homes via Wi-Fi networking. No more dropped calls in the bathroom.
I've had WiFi-enabled phones connection over Verizon FIOS. They were unusable in WiFi mode, dropping calls and connections like crazy. Generally, phone would ring, you would answer, there would be nobody there. Of course, Verizon also cells cellular service and digital phone over FIOS, so they have a vested interest in VoIP not working, don't they?

End municipal exclusivity deals for cable companies. TV channels are like voice pipes, part of an era that is about to pass. A little competition for cable will help the transition to paying for shows instead of overpaying for little-watched networks. Competition brings de facto network neutrality and open access (if you don't like one service blocking apps, use another), thus one less set of artificial rules to be gamed.
While we're at it, why not end exclusivity deals for power companies as well! Oh wait... maintaining a cable plant is expensive. So expensive that broadband wireless is probably cheaper. Plus, people object to having their street dug up 10 times in a row by different companies, and even with just Verizon and Comcast they have a nasty habit of "accidentally" cutting each other's wires.

Encourage faster and faster data connections to our homes and phones. It should more than double every two years. To homes, five megabits today should be 10 megabits in 2011, 25 megabits in 2013 and 100 megabits in 2017. These data-connection speeds are technically doable today, with obsolete voice and video policy holding it back.
Once you've got a fiber network in place, then it is just a question of replacing the transmitters and receivers, so this is actually doable. Communication companies are reluctant to throw away working equipment, so unless they have competition driving it, they are not going to bother. Wireless bandwidth is not going to double every couple years, in fact, it is going to get worse! The more people using wireless, the less bandwidth available for each customer.

Unasked question: Why is it considered normal and acceptable in the US to pay over $100/month for communication, when most people in the world get better service for a tenth the cost?

Re:Good points, bad points (2, Insightful)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 4 years ago | (#29152009)

"While we're at it, why not end exclusivity deals for power companies as well! Oh wait... maintaining a cable plant is expensive. So expensive that broadband wireless is probably cheaper. Plus, people object to having their street dug up 10 times in a row by different companies, and even with just Verizon and Comcast they have a nasty habit of "accidentally" cutting each other's wires."

The best answer would be to have the local municipality be the one installing and owning the lines, and then leasing out their use to anyone who wishes to offer service on them.

"In general a good idea, but I'm not quite sure how you get Qualcom CDMA phones to work on a GSM network."

That'd be mighty difficult. But there shouldn't be a reason why a Verizon CDMA phone shouldn't work on a Sprint CDMA network.

"Of course, Verizon also cells cellular service and digital phone over FIOS, so they have a vested interest in VoIP not working, don't they?"

This is one of the motivations behind the Net Neutrality movement. Verizon shouldn't care what kind of data is sent over its lines.

"texting is free"...? (2, Insightful)

Morgon (27979) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151321)

While this is a small part of the overall features mentioned in the article, the one thing that doesn't make sense is the 'free texting' portion - the SMS still has to be sent to your phone by your carrier, so how would it be any less expensive than normal?

Re:"texting is free"...? (3, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151371)

but it's not expensive to send a text, so lets drop the term expensive from this conversaion completely. and lets not call it free either, because you are ALREADY paying your carrier for access to thier network, and part of that deal means people can contact you on your phone with them. exactly what right do they have to impede that because it's a competing application/carrier? i would have thought this would fall under anti competitive laws.

Re:"texting is free"...? (1)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 4 years ago | (#29152013)

It is very expensive once you think about what you're actually paying for and how much it actually costs them to do it.

Re:"texting is free"...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29151383)

I use the SMS within GV and do not pay a charge for any texts to and from my GV number.

Re:"texting is free"...? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29151511)

the one thing that doesn't make sense is the 'free texting' portion - the SMS still has to be sent to your phone by your carrier, so how would it be any less expensive than normal?

It isn't less expensive than normal - the cost to physically provide the SMS service is the same: VIRTUALLY NOTHING.

What the cell phone carrier loses is the ability to charge pigopolist SMS rates with ridiculous margins, since the SMS is now carried by Google.

Re:"texting is free"...? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29151559)

You're assuming it's still sent over the SMS portion of the network. I imagine GV app could set up push notifications to just use the data network, falling back to the SMS network if it didn't immediately get a push ack (I'm assuming push stuff can/has to ack). Same with sending texts.

Re:"texting is free"...? (1, Troll)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151901)

You're assuming it's still sent over the SMS portion of the network. I imagine GV app could set up push notifications to just use the data network, ...

Note that SMS messages share the (very low bandwidth) control channel with all the other control messages. While SMS pricing is, of course, "all the traffic will bear", it CAN'T be free, because it must be rationed somehow. (It would be trivial to build an IP-over-SMS tunnel and swamp it.) Charging ten cents per 120-payload-byte packet keeps the traffic down to something the channel can handle - even with the texting explosion.

Switch it to the broadband data channel and a text message effectively becomes a minuscule email (fitting into a single tiny packet) with a vanishingly small cost. It's fine for that to be "free", meaning "having a marginal cost" like an elevator ride, i.e. "too cheap to meter, include it in the flat-rate overhead".

Re:"texting is free"...? (1)

LunaticTippy (872397) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151739)

I use a ultra low cost mobile carrier, paying $6.66 per month for 66 minutes. Texts are $.10 each so I have that disabled. When I got google voice i can now send and receive texts for $.00 but only from my computer. (or from my cellphone in web mode which costs $5/month or $1.50/day)

It's pretty useful. Lots of my friends use texting a lot and now I can participate in a limited way.

Full List (5, Informative)

TejWC (758299) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151337)

Here is a full list for the lazy:

  • A single Google number for all user's phones.
  • Free calls and SMS in the contiguous US and Canada.
  • Calling International phone numbers for as low as 0.01 USD per minute.
  • Call screening. Announce callers based on their number or by an automated identification request for blocked numbers.
  • Listen in on someone recording a voicemail before taking a call.
  • Block calls.
  • Send, receive, and store SMS online.
  • Answer an incoming call on any of your phones.
  • Phone routing. Choose which phones should ring based on who calls.
  • Forwarding phones.
  • Voicemail transcripts. Read voicemails online.
  • Listen to voicemail online or from a phone.
  • Receive notifications of voicemails via email or SMS.
  • Personalized greeting that vary greetings by caller.
  • The ability to forward or download voicemails.
  • Conference calling.
  • Record calls and store them online.
  • Switch phones during a call.
  • View the web inbox from a mobile device/phone.
  • Set preferences for contacts by group.
  • Ability to change your number for a fee.

Re:Full List (5, Insightful)

gstep (1583577) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151385)

Basically everything you ever wanted that everyone else has failed to provide at a reasonable cost...FOR FREE!

Re:Full List (1, Flamebait)

maharb (1534501) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151555)

No one seems to get that the application does nothing without a phone and network. Until Google has their own network that they are willing to give these services out on I would say it is legitimate for AT&T to not want to deal with all the bandwidth that this app would use. The list is awesome and I would love to have it but you have to be reasonable. You can't expect a company to take a huge hit on bandwidth with zero compensation from the customer. As someone who doesn't use tons of bandwidth, I want to be charged a fair rate and not have it inflated because every dipshit wants to use VoIP with a million features rather than placing a phone call on their phone. Contrary to everyone's belief bandwidth costs money and apps like this, if everyone was using them, would eat up most of it. Sure phone companies are screwing us, but have a little bit of knowledge of what you are asking the phone company to offer for free before demanding it. If they go bankrupt you won't be able to use the app anymore anyway or the rates for a standard plan are going to skyrocket even further so they can cover all these apps.

Re:Full List (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29151621)

o hai, googel voice is no voip, kthx.

Of those features, what uses significant bandwidth? Sending 140 character text messages over the data network? text transcriptions emailed to you with a link that no one will ever click to hear the actual message? Please try your argument again.

Grandcentral (now Google Voice) are awesome without ANY app on the phone. All the app on the phone does is integrates with your contacts so you don't have to call a special number and/or call a forwarding number first THEN type in your contact's number to call them using your google voice account. It also apparently provides text messaging over the data network instead of the carrier's high priority data channels that SMS uses. So it's actually easier on the network than SMS.

In America, the 'free calls' is actually somewhat of a misnomer. It's a free service domestically, but you still pay for normal phone air time just like for any call, because both sides pay for air time in America (both the caller and the person called). Google Voice doesn't change that, and still goes over the voice network.

Re:Full List (5, Insightful)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151633)

...It is legitimate for AT&T to not want to deal with all the bandwidth that this app would use.

No, it's not, and preserving this kind of access is network neutrality's raison d'être. The nightmare scenario is a provider using its clout to hamper access to a company that happens to compete with another line of the provider's business. It is completely unacceptable. Neither Apple nor AT&T has the moral or legal right to use control over one product line to subdue a competitor in another.

Re:Full List (-1, Troll)

maharb (1534501) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151951)

Fine, let me come over and use your shower and all the water I want just because it's in the interest of keeping things fair.

It costs AT&T money to provide that bandwidth. Saying they should have no right to how much of it and how it is used is about the same as saying electricity companies, water companies and gas companies should let you take as much electricity, water and gas as you want as long as you are paying a flat monthly fee.

This isn't about net neutrality, it's about a company's need to be compensated for the service it provides. If we were billed on a per kb usage then it would be different.

Re:Full List (4, Informative)

harmonise (1484057) | more than 4 years ago | (#29152079)

It costs AT&T money to provide that bandwidth.

Which you are paying for. Google Voice IS NOT A VOICE OVER IP APPLICATION. Calls are placed and received over regular phone lines. You are still paying AT&T for the minutes you are using when you receive a call forwarded from your Google Voice number.

Re:Full List (1)

ToasterMonkey (467067) | more than 4 years ago | (#29152051)

No, it's not, and preserving this kind of access is network neutrality's raison d'être. The nightmare scenario is a provider using its clout to hamper access to a company that happens to compete with another line of the provider's business. It is completely unacceptable. Neither Apple nor AT&T has the moral or legal right to use control over one product line to subdue a competitor in another.

Yah, if they want to pull that kind of crap off, they should build their own app store.

Re:Full List (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151649)

have a little bit of knowledge of what you are asking

Lol. You might try taking your own advice before pontificating.

Re:Full List (1)

robmv (855035) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151773)

So what you are saying is that Google must shutdown something like YouTube because they do not deal with the bandwith my phone/computer use or because they do not provide the network I use to access it. So if that is true, we must shutdown all the servers on the Internet right now. Google is footing the bill for the bandwith they use for their services, the user is paying an internet service to access content, what other thing is needed

Re:Full List (1)

maharb (1534501) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151965)

What I was saying, and apparently you missed it, is that the bandwidth needs to be paid for by someone. In this case both you and Google are buying the bandwidth and effectively leasing a slice of the network to carry out these communications. The iPhone app does not have these characteristics.

Re:Full List (4, Insightful)

31415926535897 (702314) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151875)

You can't expect a company to take a huge hit on bandwidth with zero compensation from the customer

Zero Compensation?!

What's that $24.95 line item on my bill that says "Unlimited data"? I didn't realize I was supposed to be getting that FOR FREE! I'm calling up T-Mobile immediately to request a correction to my bill.

Wait, what? It's not zero compensation for a service they promised to provide?

By the way, the voice component of Google Voice doesn't use any bandwidth. You say what number you want to call, and Google Voice calls the number your at (home, work or cell)--which, by the way, you pay the phone company for (or should I not use that too?)--and when you answer call the other number. That way your Google Voice number shows on the caller ID of the person you're calling.

Re:Full List (1)

maharb (1534501) | more than 4 years ago | (#29152063)

I guess you are right, the compensation is not zero but you can effectively use unlimited minutes on the network for a fraction of the cost it takes AT&T to provide those minutes. Phone companies don't have the bandwidth to provide all their customers tons of talking time, that is why they sell minutes. By charging for minutes they can estimate usage as well as pay for required upgrade if usage nears capacity. Take that ability away from them and you will create a mess of unreliable and over utilized networks because of unpredictability of usage and inability to pay for upgrades.

Also, I don't believe one bit that it uses zero bandwidth. Unless I am having a huge brain fart, all the research I have done says that it does indeed use bandwidth which is also intuitive. You can't transmit voice without using bandwidth.

Re:Full List (1)

harmonise (1484057) | more than 4 years ago | (#29152055)

I would say it is legitimate for AT&T to not want to deal with all the bandwidth that this app would use.

What bandwidth? A few XMl queries back to a server? It probably would transfer less data than the average web page.

Re:Full List (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29151845)

o Grant Google full access to record, transcribe, and store all of your voice communications, contacts, sms, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.

AT&T had nothing to do with it, apparently (5, Informative)

Ignis Fatuusz (1084045) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151347)

http://www.apple.com/hotnews/apple-answers-fcc-questions/ [apple.com] An unusual move for Apple, but apparently pretty straighforward.

Re:AT&T had nothing to do with it, apparently (5, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151475)

Yes, Comrade!

Whenever I receive a communique from their headquarters, I know I can trust it fully without hesitation or rational thought process. This is the beauty of being inside the One, True Market, where no company has ever lied about their activities before.

Seriously though, if Microsoft released a similar statement, your bullshit detector would have exploded. I don't trust any PR from anyone. Do you think they don't have closed door conversations about destroying competition on an hourly basis? Do you think they're dumb enough to have them on the record?

Re:AT&T had nothing to do with it, apparently (1)

NovaHorizon (1300173) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151793)

Do you think they don't have closed door conversations about destroying competition on an hourly basis?

Nope. I don't think they do. Those meetings take at LEAST an hour each to begin with. Since it'd only be the big guys having those meetings, you have to throw in the mandatory 2 and a half hour lunch, and 3 times a day scolding of the employee's directly beneath them. Oh! Don't forget the 5 random peons they have to have fired just to make it look like they do something.

With all that, I bet they barely get in 2 of those meetings in their 10am - 3pm shift.

AT&T claims the didn't kill it (3, Informative)

je ne sais quoi (987177) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151353)

AT&T denies [nytimes.com] any role in rejecting the google voice application. Apple, also denies [nytimes.com] rejecting the application, but claims it is still studying it.

This is sort of interesting to watch, whose business relationship is decaying faster, Apple and Google's or Apple and AT&T's? (Or Microsoft's and Dell or MS and HP, but that's a different thread.)

Hm. (5, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151369)


FTA: What this episode really uncovers is that AT&T is dying

Awaiting confirmation from Netcraft.

.

Wall Street Journal reads Slashdot? (3, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151377)

Aside from visual voicemail, the article talks about pretty much everything everyone here already discussed at length in previous stories on this topic. The "good thing" about this article's appearance is that it sheds light on the topic in a forum that many non-geeks will likely see. I'm sure I'm in good company when I say that these issues need to be brought to the attention of the general populace.

Does AT&T advertise with the WSJ? Will they continue to do so after this article? ;) Who knows.

Cross Your Fingers (1)

nog_lorp (896553) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151403)

I really, really hope that both Apple and AT&T get fucked for this behavior. Blatant trust behavior like this cannot be allowed.

Why did Eric Schmidt resign again? (1)

johncadengo (940343) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151419)

From the article:

Earlier this month, Apple rejected an application for the iPhone called Google Voice. The uproar set off a chain of eventsâ"Google's CEO Eric Schmidt resigning from Apple's board

I'm confused. I thought this [guardian.co.uk] was over a "conflict of interest."

It seems to me that you cannot make the implication that Apple rejecting an Google Voice set off the resignation of Eric Schmidt. More like, Google Voice exists and now that Google is directly competing with Apple, there is a conflict of interest forcing Eric Schmidt to resign from one or the other.

Re:Why did Eric Schmidt resign again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29151447)

Why did Eric Schmidt resign? Because he's a fucking pussy, that's why!

Its an opinion article that explains nothing (3, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151481)

The first part of it discusses the existence of the rumors, doesn't mention the outright denial, mentions a few features of Google Voice (all of which work with the iPhone without any special app), states someting untrue about Apple and iTunes (says it works "exclusively with iPhones and iPods", which is kind of odd because it also works with computers, both Windows and Mac OS) in a way that it doesn't tie to the Google Voice decision, and tosses out some things about AT&T that it likewise doesn't tie to the Google Voice decision at all.

After that, it goes on to make a generalized attack on the FCC without pointing to any concrete examples, and move on to posting a vague wish list of things that a "national data policy" should focus on, with nothing about how to actually do most of it.

Its also, one might note, an opinion piece (not a news article), on technology-related policy from "a former hedge-fund manager".

one phone company almost had a unified number (1)

swschrad (312009) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151483)

until they sold wireless, and then left partnership with Sprint, Qwest (fka US West) had a patent for One-Number Service. either your home or office number would ring through to the cell phone if that was on, and to the wireline service when it wasn't.

I suspect the patent can be licensed at this point, since it's no longer in use.

But Skype is not blocked (1)

MikePlacid (512819) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151513)

>>With Google Voice, you have one Google phone number that callers use to reach you, and you pick up whichever phone--office, home or cellular--rings. You can screen calls, listen in before answering, record calls, read transcripts of your voicemails, and do free conference calls. Domestic calls and texting are free, and international calls to Europe are two cents a minute. In other words, a unified voice system, something a real phone company should have offered years ago.'>>

Funny thing - Skype App allows much of the same, and it's not blocked. AT&T does not suffer much from it - I'll still pay my monthly fee. Probably just one more glitch in approval process.

I'm wondering (1)

kickme_hax0r (968593) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151563)

So what happens when we're all using and relying on Google Voice, then something like this [slashdot.org] happens to the service?

Well I got my revenge (4, Funny)

supun (613105) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151613)

I forward my AT&T land line number to my Google Voice number in order to block the constant AT&T telemarketers that call me.

When high & mighty buisness meets technology (2, Insightful)

Physix (1601947) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151685)

I'm really glad to see that AT&T is embracing technology and digital freedom. It reminds me of when the RIAA was introduced to MP3s and P2P networking. I'm sure that the AT&T execs are busy soiling themselves over VOIP rather than finding ways to embrace the technology and provide new services.

Yup seems someone is lying.. Only AT+T has proof.. (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29151715)

http://www.engadget.com/2009/08/21/atandt-tells-the-fcc-it-had-no-role-in-removing-google-voice-fro/

Apple's turn... What? Apple is not an honest company? Doesn't want to disclose its policies? loosen its grip on its monopoly?
Say it ain't so!

Sick of all the Apple stuff. like they are some angelic company.... just as bad as the rest of them.. With a crappy GUI.. (lol I like my jab there at the end.)

flash: firm does not give away product (2, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151733)

As the WSJ well knows, a firm is not going to give away a product unless there is an additional revenue stream or some other advantage to compensate for it. Google, like MS, can effectively give away product because there is a profit benefit to being in a oligopoly with only minor competition. As long as google can be a primary service is a business that apparently has a significant capitol cost but relatively small marginal costs, then it makes sense for google to build brand loyalty by giving away freebies. The key thing to keep a large base to pay those fixed costs and generate a profit through advertising.

OTOH ATT has to relies on direct payment from customers for real services. It has to provide a level of service to keep customers, a level of service that likely has high marginal costs. So the article states the bleeding obvious. Of course ATT does not like google voice anymore than it liked the competition for cheap long distance or the ability of cell phone users to make intrastate calls at a fraction of the cost of a land line.

What makes no sense is suggesting that an incumbent would provide such a profit destroying service. It would be like saying the WSJ should set up a competing site that all the features of the premium site but at no charge.

People like to talk (1)

anarche (1525323) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151753)

..without listening??

Assuming jazzmans post (which is uncited) is correct (and by the tone of the post i assume you are related to apple??) then 90% of people who posted afterwards need to read all posts

But then who wants to pay for a conversation where they don't get to speak?

Its just the app not the service blocked right? (2, Interesting)

e3m4n (947977) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151857)

As far as I understand, you can still use google voice with the iphone and AT&T the same way you would if you had a lesser featured Razr right? They havent gone as far as banning calls from the google voice service or prevented you from doing DTMF feature selection the way the youtube videos suggest right? I don't have a google voice account (apparently on a waiting list) so I cant check for myself. I've been fairly happy with my iphone aside from this and Its been jailbroken which brings up another point, cant they release the google app through Cydia for the time being?

Terms and Conditions (1)

Ohio Calvinist (895750) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151869)

While some of this (particularly how vauge "core-experience" arguments can be) is a bit unsavory, it seems to be fully within the Terms and Conditions given when the phone is bought and when the AT&T account is opened. My major objection is that the data-plan is not truly unlimited, in that AT&T should more readily disclose the VOIP exclusion (or find a way to debit minutes for VOIP calls) and the limitations on video over 3G (either Apple or AT&T). Weather or not this is acceptable is up to the purchaser, but I can't see how anyone who took the time to actually read any information on the phone or the contract from AT&T wouldn't have expected these kinds of limitations. I certainly understand how folks could be upset about some of this, but I can't fault AT&T or Apple on the disclosure issue.

My second thought is that the App Store 2 week waiting period is not that unreasonable for software deployment. I think developers were completely unreasonable to expect a QA process worth anything under that load to be finished in a few days, and Apple should do their part to prioritize security and compatibility updates over feature or new-release applications. However, as is developers simply need to be more intentional and regimented in their releases and take advantage of Apple's willingness to QA their applications and help them in the long run produce apps that don't suck so bad they never get repeat customers.

Not an WSJ article but a WSJ opinion piece (1)

rlh100 (695725) | more than 4 years ago | (#29151949)

I know the opinion is ringing your bells, but it is just an opinion.

RLH

You're mistaken... (3, Insightful)

okmijnuhb (575581) | more than 4 years ago | (#29152085)

The phone companies do not want to empower you.
They want to enslave you.

They want to:
overcharge you for text messaging,
use up your minutes (and waste your personal time) with unnecessarily long outgoing messages,
charge you hidden exorbitant roaming charges,
force you to choose a "plan" in hopes that you will err in their favor, rather than switch plans automatically on a monthly basis
give you insufficient notification when your "special promo plan" expires, causing you to rack up $350 in a month, where you used to pay $80 for the same volume of calls, etc etc etc

I find ATT to be one of the most vile corporations in terms of customer service, always looking for a way to cheat, swindle, and bamboozle their users.
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