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8/4/2009
04:26 PM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
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Military Gets Google Voice, Apple Gets Played

In the wake of Apple's refusal to allow the Google Voice app to be distributed through Apple's iTunes App Store and the FCC inquiry that followed, one way that Google could get back at Apple would be to highlight the benefits of the Google Voice service.

In the wake of Apple's refusal to allow the Google Voice app to be distributed through Apple's iTunes App Store and the FCC inquiry that followed, one way that Google could get back at Apple would be to highlight the benefits of the Google Voice service.By demonstrating just how useful Google Voice can be, Google could make Apple's defensive posture look like hostility toward mobile users.

Worse still would be to appear to be hostile to mobile users in the military and their families, particularly when government agencies are poking around. Denying members of the military a useful, money-saving communications tool like Google Voice could easily be misconstrued.

But such considerations probably never entered the minds of anyone at Google when the company on Tuesday welcomed active service members with .mil e-mail addresses to open free Google Voice accounts.

"When you deploy, your life is put on hold," explained U.S. Army Sgt. Dale Sweetnam in a blog post. "While you live and work in a different world, everyone else moves on with life back home. Your family and friends keep moving, and this sometimes means it's just not possible for them to stay awake until 2 a.m. to receive a phone call. Calling Iraq or Afghanistan is seldom an option."

Google Voice, he said, can help solve some of those problems. "It's like a care package in audio form," he said.

What's it like to be denied this care package? Strap yourself into a two-year iPhone contract and you can find out.

Asked if the timing of the Tuesday announcement had anything to do with Apple's rejection of the Google Voice app -- an event that generated over 3,700 news articles in the past week in addition to an FCC inquiry -- a Google spokesperson answered with an emphatic, "Nope!"

So there you have it: Google doesn't wish Apple to suffer any embarrassment. That would be evil, right? As Google CEO Eric Schmidt said in a statement explaining his departure from Apple's Board of Directors, "It's a fantastic company." Best friends forever.

Really, the timing is purely coincidental.

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