The iPhone, AT&T, and Google voice

Posted on 20 August 2009

I was thrilled when I ran across this new Google application deemed Google voice.  I signed up and waited for better than a month before I got the email that I was good to go on voice.  This product is just another of Google’s many applications that commoditizes  the industries they touch.  Google Voice allows you to have a lifetime phone number (that you pick), and acts as a virtual call center where you can forward the calls to another phone, receive and send text messages, record voice mail and have it transcribed and emailed to you, listen in on a voice mail as it’s left, among many other features – all for free right now.

But it had to be to good to be true?  Yep, I own an iPhone and have a plan through the agless AT&T.  It doesn’t mean I can’t use Google voice on the iPhone, it just means that there isn’t a cool app that I can put on my phone to make the process easier to use.  You see, Apple and AT&T decided to reject the Google voice application and make it not available on the App Store.  Now, to use Google Voice, I have to open the web browser on the phone, navigate to Google voice, and then make a call or send a text message.  It’s not a great option, but out of spite one that I will start using.

Andy Kessler wrote a very good opinion article in the Wall Street Journal entitled Why AT&T Killed Google Voice.  I couldn’t agree more with the article, AT&T in its fight to control the pipe between you and your contacts is slowing technilogical progress.  In this article, Andy argues for four things long overneeded in the US:

• End phone exclusivity. Any device should work on any network. Data flows freely.

• Transition away from “owning” airwaves. As we’ve seen with license-free bandwidth via Wi-Fi networking, we can share the airwaves without interfering with each other. Let new carriers emerge based on quality of service rather than spectrum owned. Cellphone coverage from huge cell towers will naturally migrate seamlessly into offices and even homes via Wi-Fi networking. No more dropped calls in the bathroom.

• End municipal exclusivity deals for cable companies. TV channels are like voice pipes, part of an era that is about to pass. A little competition for cable will help the transition to paying for shows instead of overpaying for little-watched networks. Competition brings de facto network neutrality and open access (if you don’t like one service blocking apps, use another), thus one less set of artificial rules to be gamed.

• Encourage faster and faster data connections to our homes and phones. It should more than double every two years. To homes, five megabits today should be 10 megabits in 2011, 25 megabits in 2013 and 100 megabits in 2017. These data-connection speeds are technically doable today, with obsolete voice and video policy holding it back.

What should Google’s next course of action be?  I would suggest a deal that allows them to sell Android with data only plans.  That might slice into a piece of Apple’s pie.

1 Response to The iPhone, AT&T, and Google voice

  • […] back for a couple years now – to still not have a feature as common as MMS.  Much like the Google Voice Issue that AT&T has perpetuated we sit today with an iPhone that can not send media via text […]

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