Friday the FCC released a series of questions for Apple about handset exclusivity and the iPhone application Store. These questions focus on competition and appear to be a response to Apple rejecting Google’s Voice over IP App.
Recent press reports indicate that Apple has declined to approve the Google Voice application for the iPhone and has removed related (and previously approved) third-party applications from the iPhone App Store.1 In light of pending FCC proceedings regarding wireless open access (RM-11361) and handset exclusivity(RM-11497), we are interested in a more complete understanding of this situation. To that end, please provide answers to the following questions by close of business on Friday, August 21, 2009.
1. Why did Apple reject the Google Voice application for iPhone and remove related third-party applications from its App Store? In addition to Google Voice, which related third-party applications were removed or have been rejected? Please provide the specific name of each application and the contact information for the developer.
2. Did Apple act alone, or in consultation with AT&T, in deciding to reject the Google Voice application and related applications? If the latter, please
describe the communications between Apple and AT&T in connection with the decision to reject Google Voice. Are there any contractual conditions or non-contractual understandings with AT&T that affected Apple’s decision in this matter?
3. Does AT&T have any role in the approval of iPhone applications generally (or in certain cases)? If so, under what circumstances, and what role does it play? What roles are specified in the contractual provisions between Apple and AT&T (or anynon-contractual understandings) regarding the consideration of particular iPhone applications?
4. Please explain any differences between the Google Voice iPhone application and any Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) applications that Apple has approved for the iPhone. Are any of the approved VoIP applications allowed to operate on AT&T’s 3G network?
5. What other applications have been rejected for use on the iPhone and for what reasons? Is there a list of prohibited applications or of categories of applications that is provided to potential vendors/developers? If so, is this posted on the iTunes website or otherwise disclosed to consumers?
6. What are the standards for considering and approving iPhone applications? What is the approval process for such applications (timing, reasons for rejection, appeal process, etc.)? What is the percentage of applications that are rejected? What are the major reasons for rejecting an application?
Disclosure, I am working at PK under a grant through Google’s Public Policy Fellow program. I also own an iPhone that I have intermittently jail broken for just this reason. I have a freedom to tinker with my own devices and to choose what apps i use on it. Unfortunately this could make me a criminal under the DMCA… Platforms should be neutral, I do not want Linux or Windows telling me what word processor I can use. Why should a phone be different?