Government // Mobile & Wireless
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8/21/2009
05:09 PM
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Google Denies Skype Discrimination

Are Google, Apple, and AT&T the same when it comes to mobile application approval? Google's Andy Rubin argues there's a difference.

As Apple and AT&T explain to the Federal Communications Commission why the Google Voice app isn't allowed on the iPhone, Google wants to make it clear that it hasn't engaged in the same sort of anti-competitive behavior.

In a blog post published on Friday, Google VP of mobile platforms Andy Rubin takes issue with what he characterizes as an inaccurate claim in a USA Today article.

The article says that Android phones can't use a version of Skype that routes phone calls over the Internet using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology. It suggests that Google must be behind the absence of a full-featured version of Skype because T-Mobile has denied asking for Skype to be blocked.

Two sources quoted in the article, Ben Scott, public policy director of Free Press, and Roger Entner, head of telecom research at Nielsen, liken Google's actions to those of AT&T and Apple.

But Rubin insists that USA Today got it wrong because Google has not rejected Skype or any other VoIP application. He explains that Skype Lite exists because a full-featured version of Skype wasn't possible due to the technical limitations of the initial versions of the Android software. The first generation of the Android operating system did not support VoIP, so Skype Lite was developed to use the mobile carrier's network instead.

In other words, Skype Lite was not created because a mobile carrier feared losing revenue to VoIP calls.

"At this point no software developer -- including Skype -- has implemented a complete VoIP application for Android," said Rubin. "But we're excited to see -- and use -- these applications when they're submitted, because they often provide more choice and options for users. We also look forward to the day when consumers can access any application, including VoIP apps, from any device, on any network."

Now this doesn't preclude the possibility that T-Mobile could ask Google to block a full version of Skype if and when it is completed, or the possibility that Google's contract with T-Mobile might require such action, but it does show that Google sees a distinction between its mobile application policies and those of Apple (AT&T has told the FCC that it had nothing to do with the Google Voice ban).

Google's hope is that the FCC will see a difference too.

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