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Is Being In the Mobile Biz License to Ignore the Internet?

By - July 28, 2009

sadmac.gif…and by the Internet, I mean the *values* of the Internet, in particular, the values of a platform. When you build a platform that leverages the Internet, it strikes me you should act like a player in that space – IE, not acting like a monopolist, a bully, or in your own self interest at the expense of those who use your platform – like your customers and developers.

Such seems the case with Apple’s refusal to allow two Google apps into the iPhone App Store. Yesterday’s ban – on Google Voice – is easy to understand – at least if you are venal and driven by the same corporate interests as your partner, AT&T. Voice bypasses AT&T’s networks and means less cabbage in AT&T’s pockets.

But Apple also banned Latitude, a mapping application. Why? Might it be because Apple has designs on that category? Or does AT&T?

In any case, if Apple wanted to give Android a boost, it sure as hell has done it. Actions like this are totally contrary to the spirit of the Web, and I hope Apple loses, big time, for taking them. At the very least, it feels like it’s time for Eric Schmidt to leave Apple’s board.

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12 thoughts on “Is Being In the Mobile Biz License to Ignore the Internet?

  1. Rick says:

    Google most certainly knew that Apple would block the app?

    Heck, Flash is blocked to protect iTunes.

    It’ll be interesting to see how Google’s phone company partners react to Google Voice on Android.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree.

    BTW, AT&T has a new app called FamilyLocator (or something similar) that is the same as Latitude.

    Apple says that the Compass app license says it cannot be used for the purpose of latitude, so they are not approving their app. lame excuse. same reason amplified reality apps are not making the cut into app store these days.

    lame approach from apple, really, to limit the way to use the platform.

    my prediction is that apple does not fix this soon, pre and android will have them for lunch in the near future as customers don’t care about the platform as much as they do for apps (what do you know, Bill Gates was done 30+ yrs ago – it is not the machine, it is the apps that count :) ).

  3. Jason Weisberger says:

    How about the Apple/AT&T/Garmin extortion around $9.99 a month subscription based turn-by-turn GPS? This is a one time fee software package to use hardware you bought with the phone.

  4. Hubert says:

    The reality is: “because they can”. Most people will care about the phone user experience first (built-in apps) and 3rd-party applications will come as an afterthought.

    As long as iPhones are selling like hotcakes, Apple can command the game in whichever direction they want. How many people will defect because they can’t get a particular app? Right now, not a lot.

    Apple has never been about openness. On the contrary, their success is built upon tight control. I’m not sure why one would expect a change unless their life is at stake?

    Sure Apple might “slow down innovation”, and yes may be they are on the wrong path, but so far, no business indicator is showing that to the captain of the boat.

    So, who’s going to ditch their iPhone to protest? :)

  5. ap21 says:

    @Jason Weinberger: Cause you knew it doesn’t have turn-by-turn preinstalled? There’s now a nice app from navigon that doesn’t require a subscription.
    @Rick with flash I really don’t think this has anything to do with itunes, more likely cause adobe can’t even make a fast os x client, so how could they on a mobile? I saw a video of flash on android or winmo (with a recent device similiar to the iphone in power of computing) and it was painful to watch how slow it was.

    That said (i have a macbook and an iphone) I really don’t like what apple are doing recently, and hopefully they either wake up or get a knock on the knuckles.

  6. ap21 says:

    @Jason Weinberger: Cause you knew it doesn’t have turn-by-turn preinstalled? There’s now a nice app from navigon that doesn’t require a subscription.
    @Rick with flash I really don’t think this has anything to do with itunes, more likely cause adobe can’t even make a fast os x client, so how could they on a mobile? I saw a video of flash on android or winmo (with a recent device similiar to the iphone in power of computing) and it was painful to watch how slow it was.

    That said (i have a macbook and an iphone) I really don’t like what apple is doing recently, and hopefully they either wake up or get a knock on the knuckles.

    @hubert: i will. if things don’t improve soon, my next phone will be a samsung galaxy or a pre. This will be very easy, especially cause o2 germany now has a program where you can even finance a phone with them, but without needing a phone contract from them.

  7. Bertil says:

    Why am I thinking that Eric Schmidt is very happy to have Android’s main competitor shoot itself in the foot? They’ll be enough jailbreakers to make a video about how amazing Google Voice is on such a platform? Steve Jobs might be a badass, but AT&T keeps screwing with their image and unless they react, they’ll remain a great designer company with no market share.

  8. noah says:

    While I can see the point, I feel no great pain that Google has been “deprived” of this honor. Are there any instances where google has been less than transparent, or down right monopolistic with it’s actions in the search space? I bet we can come up with tons of examples. I know this was about Apples character…but Google is no helpless third party. They suffer the same dominance issues as Apple.

  9. JG says:

    and by the Internet, I mean the *values* of the Internet, in particular, the values of a platform. When you build a platform that leverages the Internet, it strikes me you should act like a player in that space – IE, not acting like a monopolist, a bully, or in your own self interest at the expense of those who use your platform – like your customers and developers.

    John, another way of expressing those Internet *values* of which you speak is to use the terms openness, transparency, and reuse/remixing. That is what the Internet is all about, am I right?

    So in looking at this situation, I have to ask whether Google itself espouses these values when it comes to its core money-generating platform: search+ads

    Read the Google Terms of Service:

    http://www.google.com/accounts/TOS

    5.3 You agree not to access (or attempt to access) any of the Services by any means other than through the interface that is provided by Google, unless you have been specifically allowed to do so in a separate agreement with Google. You specifically agree not to access (or attempt to access) any of the Services through any automated means (including use of scripts or web crawlers) and shall ensure that you comply with the instructions set out in any robots.txt file present on the Services.

    This used to say “You may not meta-search Google”. Even though the language has changed the overall intent and (chilling) effect is the same: Google will not let you “index” its search results (openness Fail) and mash those search results with other sources of information (Lawrence-Lessigian reuse/remix Fail).

    Doesn’t this run counter to the *values* of the Internet? It seems to me that it does. I’ve been repeating this point on your blog for the past half decade now, but it bears keeping in mind.

    Google is wholly reliant on web sites around the world making their valuable content open and crawlable through an interface other than the one that the webmaster provides. Yet Google does not adhere to that same standard.

    I agree that Apple should be open enough to allow GVoice onto the iPhone. But let’s not kid ourselves, here: Google is just as guilty as playing “closed system” when it comes to protecting their own revenue stream.

    Don’t you think?

  10. You’re website has very good infos. I learned very a lot from reading these.

  11. Google should simply publish their app on their website. Screw some store. All other phones and computer products allow installation of software in many ways, but no, Apple has to control you!
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