Is AT&T really behind yanking Google Voice from Apple Store?

Oh the mess three companies with huge egos can make.

Google, Apple, AT&T, oh my! As news broke today that Apple is systematically rejecting Google Voice applications from its iPhone Store, folks started scratching their heads and asking why. Some say AT&T is the mastermind behind it all, says the GigaOM blog.

The whole situation points to how messy competition becomes when a bunch of high-ego IT companies can't decide if they are partners or competitors. Here's the short version of the story: iPhone App Developer Sean Kovacs says that Apple contacted him to say that his Google Voice app had been pulled from the store. Apple reportedly said that the app duplicated features that already come on the iPhone. Other developers came forward to claim their Google Voice apps were being rejected or pulled as well. (It appears that the folks that run have offered to host at least some of these Google Voice apps).

Fingers were pointed at AT&T. But GigaOM points out that AT&T doesn't lose money when mobile users use Google Voice. The only thing Google Voice really does is mask your phone number so that the person you call sees your Google Voice phone number instead of your mobile phone number. As long as the call was not made over WiFi, then AT&T gets to charge minutes for it. And oddly, Apple (so far) is not pulling WiFi apps from its store. You would think that if AT&T was behind this, it would certainly be stamping its foot insisting on that, too. Apparently others are saying that they have confirmation that AT&T is at the heart of the anti-Google Voice issue.

But why look beyond Apple? Google owns a competitor to the iPhone -- Android. And will one day own a competitor to the Mac, if it delivers as promised on Chrome OS. This despite the fact that Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt, sits on Apple's board of directions.

I think that Apple is starting to want to push Google out of the nest and let it land hard on its overconfident head. We'll be hearing soon, no doubt, that Schmidt has left Apple's board. We'll see limited number of Google-related apps winding up in the iPhone store going forward, too, with Apple limiting itself to accepting only the Google apps that its iPhone users are screaming to have.

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