Doug on IP Comm – An independent voice on VoIP, telecom, and IP Communication

The Apple/AT&T/Google triangle – and where’s Skype, anyway?

Posted on: August 10, 2009

Apple decides to pull the plug off of Google Voice-related apps, supposedly at the request (or a wink and a nod) from AT&T, because the App allows free text messaging and two cent per minute international calls.  The Federal Communications Commission decides this Isn’t Right and has launched an investigation of sorts.

So the latest showdown on Net Neutrality begins, and it couldn’t come at a worse time for AT&T.  Some members of Congress are already up in arms over the absurd profitability on text messaging along with the grumbling about extensive exclusivity on the iPhone.  Verizon, being no dummy, decides to sit up straight and open up its “exclusive” arrangements to smaller carriers within six months and announces it will have a crack at the Palm Pre shortly, thereby further highlighting the oh-so-monopolistic-esque practices of AT&T.

Apple? It could care less. Apple does what Apple does and the rest of the world takes it or leaves it.

Google Voice is rolling out a web site for access to GV services, so now the whole app thing is about ready reach a new level of absurdity.  Would AT&T go so far as to block access to the Google Voice website? Well, if it did, the torches and pitchforks would be out in full force from all sides, so I don’t think it’s going to happen. If it did, AT&T would have another public relations fiasco on its hands and Verizon would probably do another posturing stunt to show A) How nice it really is and B) Why the government really doesn’t need to regulate the free market…

So where’s Skype?  One would have thought that Skype would have been at the top of the highest soapbox bellowing out the virtues of Net Neutrality, but the company has been strangely quiet as the Apple/AT&T-Google Voice cat fight has evolved.  Perhaps this is because for all of Skype’s public rhetoric about Net Neutrality, the company has preferred appeasement to confrontation with a neutered version of Skype for the AT&T iPhone.

Or perhaps with Google Voice getting most of the spotlight and potentially stealing away long-distance minutes from Skype, Net Neutrality is a good idea for Skype so long as it doesn’t promote competitive alternatives…


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