Of course Apple’s anti-competitive. They’re savvy business people, protecting their turf. But, are they (or AT&T) breaking any laws with the iPhone app “approval” process? The Wall Street Journal reports that the FCC’s launched an inquiry with letters out to Apple, Google, and AT&T.
What triggered these government queries seems to be the rejection of GV Mobile, a third-party Google Voice app, in duplicating iPhone functionality. As Apple, AT&T, and Google are all business partners, I assume their lawyers will get together and respond to the FCC saying there’s no problem here… specifically because it’s an unauthorized port. Not to mention it could be bandwidth intensive.
Of course, the bandwidth arguments are also bunk. Apple has no problem allowing and prominently featuring MLB video streaming over 3G, yet Skype and SlingPlayer remain crippled. The concerns aren’t totally without merit as, in my experience, AT&T’s data network is clearly incapable of supporting the massive amount of iPhone owners. However, Apple and AT&T could issue maximum resolutions/bitrates, MBs transferred per day, etc guidance. But, as it stands, app approval criteria (aka whims) are shrouded in mystery.
I actually had a post mentally queued up on this topic after seeing the Spotify demo last week, predicting the European app (video above) would be denied. Not only does it offer iPod/iTunes-esque functionality (but better), it could be considered a bandwidth hog. Seeing as how the EU forced Microsoft to decouple the web browser from the operating system (which still has MS running scared), I figured they’d be the first to call Apple out on their anti-competitive actions.
Regardless, I’m about done with both Apple and AT&T if things continue like this. Less bars in more places coupled with crippled or non-approved apps (Latitude) isn’t doing it for me. Plus, the web browser remains “the” killer mobile app. Both Pre and Android are within striking distance of Mobile Safari. And it looks like the HTC Hero is headed to Sprint.