The wishy-washy mad scientists controlling Apple's App approval team are causing trouble once again.
This week, the App Store approval team decided that Google Voice, GV Mobile, Voice Central, and other similar applications are just not good enough for Apple's iPhone, and decided to yank the programs from the App Store. Apple stated that the applications were removed because they duplicate features that already come with the iPhone.
"Richard Chipman from Apple just called--he told me they’re removing GV Mobile from the App Store due to it duplicating features that the iPhone comes with (Dialer, SMS, etc)," said Sean Kovacs, developer of the GV Mobile application. "He didn’t actually specify which features, although I assume the whole app in general. He wouldn’t send a confirmation email either--too scared I would post it."
It's speculated that AT&T may have something to do with the removal simply because the applications pose as a threat to the iPhone's single wireless carrier. Skype, a true VoIP client that was recently approved for Apple's App store, enables cheap long-distance calling and IM chatting over a Wi-Fi connection, however it's possible that the same calls could be made via 3G. While Google voice also provides cheap long-distance calling, what throws up the red flag is the additional features including free SMS messages and more.
John Gruber of Daring Fireball confirmed AT&T's involvement based on an unnamed source, however he brings up an interesting point: Google Voice interferes with AT&T's business model as well as Apple's iPhone business model. "Not just AT&T but all iPhone carrier partners pay Apple a hefty subsidy for every iPhone sold, and that subsidy is based on assumptions about how much the average iPhone customer is going to pay in monthly service charges for voice, data, and SMS," he said.
It's probably only a matter of time before Skype and other VoIP applications are revoked from Apple's App Store as well.