Google Voice is a free new Internet telephony service that lets users screen, block and make calls, get voicemail transcripts, place conference calls and more. Sounds like a pretty handy app to me (shame it’s US invite only at the moment). But Apple has decided that it’s one app they can do without and blocked Google Voice on the iPhone – a move that seems motivated by competitive protectionism. The US Federal Communications Commission (a communications watchdog) seems to think so too as it’s now launched an inquiry into just why Apple banned Google Voice.
It’s about time someone looked into these seemingly more common exclusionary tactics and stood up for us, the consumers. After all a free market is about choice and surely Apple, with arguably one of the most popular phones ever to be released, can deal with a bit of healthy competition. Interestingly, this comes at the same time as Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google is resigning from the Apple board of directors because Google is increasingly moving into Apple’s space of operating systems (with Chrome) and telephony (with Android).
And now there’s a case of Apple trying to bribe a girl and her father to keep stum about an exploding iPod with an offer of a refund (which one would expect in the event of a device exploding in any case!). So is Apple, once only known for cutting edge and cool design, turning into a soulless corporate? We’ve seen Microsoft behave similarly with its exclusionary tactics and an attributable change in its brand perception. Google, the other tech biggie, has so far managed to stave off such a decline in image but for how long.
What disappointed me most about Apple’s move is that it comes at a time when we’re living through a recession that’s brought business ethics into serious question (in the financial sector at the very least). And Apple’s audacity in thinking that such a move would go unnoticed and/or without repercussion is simply astounding.
Is the tech sector going the same way that finance has in the past? I sincerely hope not as I for one have always thought of the tech sector as a refreshingly innovative space with humane workplaces and solid ethics. Is my continued optimism and belief in tech naive? Is this instead a taste of things to come?
Photo credit: William Hook via Flickr/Creative Commons