Do you remember Apple's
Oh my, how the tables have turned.
Meet the new boss -- same as the old boss!
Today, it's Apple that looks like the big, bad oppressor of independent thought. Limiting the discussion to just the last couple of weeks, Apple started by kicking the Palm
And now, word is streaming in from the ramparts of the war on corporate stonewalls: Several iTunes App Store applications that integrate Google's
All of those features sound great for iPhone customers because they replace less impressive and often more expensive equivalents from the service provider, which would be AT&T
What's wrong with this picture?
That strategy might have worked if the iPhone was the only decent smartphone on the market. With all due respect, that's simply not the case anymore. Unhappy customers are free to choose very comparable alternatives like the Palm Pre, or current and upcoming Google Android phones, or their favorite BlackBerry from Research In Motion
Android and BlackBerry already support Google Voice with official apps, and I'd be surprised if the Pre had a long wait ahead for such a beast. These are the modern underdogs, itching to take the fight to Big Brother on their own terms. And let's face it: The prevailing system of monthly allotments of calling minutes plus surcharges for something as simple as SMS text messages is due for a revolution.
The technology is here to create a better, more advanced, and less expensive end-user experience, and the masses will soon demand to use it. Expect virtual clones of Google Voice to appear soon, backed by new upstarts as well as current stakeholders in the mobile communications markets. Maybe AT&T won't rest until the iPhone can sport an "AT&T Voice" application with many of Google's features?
Where do we go from here?
Apple may look like the oppressor here, but only on the surface. Jobs and his merry men are still underdogs against Microsoft
- AT&T's iron will bends and Apple reinstates Google Voice as a full citizen of the App Store. Apple and consumers win; AT&T and rival smartphone designers lose. It's a wash for Google, which wins the software battle but loses a marketable advantage for Android.
- Apple keeps the Voice app on the sidelines until the levee breaks and everybody wants discounted calls alongside free text messages. Apple should lose market share this way, while the competition gains. Google becomes the big winner and AT&T the biggest loser under this scenario.
- The Apple App store remains blissfully Voice-free for all eternity and King iPhone continues to rule with a steel glove wrapped in velveteen. Apple and AT&T win, everybody else will lose. Also, Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles, riding flying unicorns, restage Woodstock to usher in a new era of peace, love, and understanding. Ain't gonna happen, folks.
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Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Google, but he holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings or a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.