Vonage CEO sees no reason for iPhone Google Voice rejection

August 21, 2009

The US telecom regulator FCC has been looking into why Apple rejected an Internet telephony application from Google for inclusion in its iPhone application store. Responses from Google, Apple and AT&T, the exclusive U.S. iPhone carrier, are due today.

Along with Google Voice’s consumer fans, the outcome of the inquiry will be closely watched by other Internet telephone services such as eBay’s Skype. Apple approved a Skype app for iPhone but consumers can only make Skype calls when they are connected to a short-range wi-fi network and not via the AT&T cellular network.
The head of another U.S. Internet telephony provider Vonage weighed in on the topic in an interview this week. Vonage plans to offer its own mobile communications application later this year.

Marc Lefar previously served as chief marketing officer of Cingular, now AT&T Mobility, where he helped put together the mobile operator’s iPhone deal with Apple, before becoming Vonage Chief Executive last year. Taking his previous experience in the wireless industry into acccount, Lefar said it was unclear to him why the Google Voice application was rejected for iPhone.

“These apps we’re talking about, to me … seem to be reasonable to allow, relative to the range of things that have already been put into the app store,” he said.

“I think its very hard to defend a unique service and to distinguish some services in the communications space (from) others if all they do is use software to be able to provide that service,” he said.

“We’re very interested to see what the FCC comes back with. We think the inquiry is completely appropriate,” he said.
So is Lefar worried Vonage’s app will also face a tough time getting approval?
“It’s not a concern,” he said “We understand what the competitive environment is and we think there’s ample opportunity to deliver software applications that deliver some of our services across a range of devices.”
“We go into this with our eyes wide open.” said Lefar but declined comment on specific devices.

(Reuters Photo of Vonage booth at a trade show)


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att really blew their opportunity. google will have the web app of their voice soon enough.

Posted by SEO | Report as abusive

Who cares what Vonage has to say about anything? They’re just a second rate Apple wannabe company. AT&T and Apple have way more on the ball than Vonage or Google ever will. Go figure.

Posted by Frank | Report as abusive

Nice, no wonder Apple didn’t have to contact AT&T before they nuked the Google Voice App.

AT&T’s BS-department said they don’t block websites, but they didn’t say they don’t block apps.

Posted by Top comment | Report as abusive

Surprised at vonages response? not really coz frankly if apple approved google then vonage apps would be shoo ins coz they funtion on the same principle. and if you understand the whole case it would be hard not to agree with apple. This app completely changes how you make calls, it instals voip which becomes a breach of contract between apple and att. Voip calls can be relatively cheaper than over the air att calls. if a customer instals voip on their cell phone, whats the need of having a wireless contract with att? all you need is keep the unlimited $30 data plan. So att stands to loose and that creates a problem with the exclusive deal.

Posted by paul zak | Report as abusive

Corporate greed or breach of contract? Considering the raping Apple and ATT have made with the iphone you’d think they would be a little more humble about sharing a piece of the monster size pie of global communications, but hey wouldn’t that be unamerican? :p

Posted by William Spendlove | Report as abusive

Oh my god. Their problem solving skills are zip. I read this article and two seconds later thought of a SOLUTION; Ok, allow skype calls to be made over the AT&T network. Whatever the skype call rate is add like 10/20 cents more, skype or AT&T tracks the info on calls made through skype over AT&T’s network, then skype pays that 10/20 cents extra to AT&T. Everyone wins- AT&T, Skype, and most importantly, the customer- us.
Now how is it that I am only 18 and I could figure this out, and the people being paid to figure this kind of stuff out cant or havent already???

Posted by Sierra | Report as abusive

The 100+ year old Bell model is doomed for extinction. Today’s better smartphones are pretty much like carrying PCs in the pocket. As such, AT&T and its ilk are mere dumb pipes through which info flows. The telecoms, and Apple, have about as much “right” to dictate what I can and cannot install on my iPhone as Microsoft does re my laptop. In time, that theoretical principle will become reality with cell phones. The fact that AT&T etc will lose money is a direct result of their abuse of customers– e.g. maximum fees for text messages which cost them nadda. Competition via customer service would surely result in a mass exodus from AT&T, which is precisely why they currently rely on device lock-in.

Posted by TreoRenegade | Report as abusive

Should be no reason why the App is not released.

Posted by David | Report as abusive

Does anyone know who Google Voice works? With Google Voice, you still have to make a call using your cell phone and it will eat up your minutes. The only “free” service from Google Voice is text messages. Cell phone companies make so much off text messages anyways especially since it virtually costs them nothing. But making calls with Google Voice is still the same as making regular calls on your cell phone.

Posted by Ahmed | Report as abusive

Agree with Ahmed, for ATT this is about the SMS far more than the voice calls. ATT and [almost] all other US wireless carriers are making bank from the simplest DATA activity imaginable. As a Gvoice member, it’s great when I’m sitting at any PC to have a text conversation with anyone for free.

Ahmed is right that calling out (placing a call) from a smartphone would still require you to use the phones’ minutes. But routing all of your incoming calls per caller or group is fantastic, and will cost ATT because I don’t even want to see, much less answer, some calls on the cell.

Plus, the easy (and free) transcription of voice mails is nice, too. Have to admit Google’s translation engine still needs some work…it’s not as accurate as Vonage. But did I mention that it’s FREE!?!

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Posted by Why is Vonage stock suddenly going bananas? | Unfiltered | Report as abusive

I don’t understand why Apple is doing this to themselves. Google has said they will simply make a web workaround if Apple blocks the app in stores (cf. http://www.newsy.com/videos/defending_th e_app_store), so why would Apple bother standing in the way?

Posted by Daniel | Report as abusive