Yesterday, Apple blocked Google’s official Google Voice application from the App Store. And this after Apple’s Phil Schiller, the Senior VP of Worldwide Product Marketing, gave his personal approval.
In retrospect, you just had to see it coming. The Google Voice iPhone app basically allowed free texts and much cheaper calls. That meant more money for carriers from data plans, but less profit from their traditional voice and SMS services.
It’s easy to point fingers at partner AT&T, as they’re the carrier with the most to lose if iPhone owners figure out how to send texts and do calls without adding to their monthly bill. And this is yet another way of limiting what subscribers can do for the sake of making more money.
Yet the whole brouhaha is also the fault of the App Store’s “walled garden”. That’s the setup that allows Apple to officially limit what iPhone owners can do—whether through its own initiative or under pressure from a partner—even after these customers have committed to a long-term investment to Apple’s product.
Sure, iPhone users can always jailbreak their phone. But why force paying customers to do something extra just so they can maximize their purchase? Just so they can do whatever they want with their gadget?
Google Voice iPhone App screenshots courtesy iPhoneFreak
There really is something wrong with the Apple App Store certification process. While you read about designers complaining about their apparently legitimate apps getting rejected, you also read about Apple having to take down a game because it outraged organizations throughout the country.
The game in question, “Baby Shaker”—which is definitely outrageous—isn’t even revolutionary nor interesting. What’s so engaging about shaking a virtual baby until it stops crying? What’s so visually-catching about line-art drawings of a baby, when the game’s developer Sikalosoft simply puts red X’s over the virtual babe’s eyes to represent death?
Now, why would Apple allow this kind of game to show on the App Store? Had Sikalosoft found a way to trick the certifiers at Apple? Or was someone within the App Store team basically running on automatic, deciding that the game met all of Apple’s criteria for certification, without realizing what kind commotion a shaken baby would cause.