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Apple tries to 'pull the wool over' FCC's eyes, says iPhone dev

VoiceCentral developer questions Apple's answers to government over App Store practices

August 23, 2009 08:34 PM ET

Computerworld - The developer of one of the Google Voice-related applications yanked from the iPhone App Store last month isn't buying Apple Inc.'s explanation to the Federal Communications Commission.

"Is Apple lying? I've been debating this for a while," said Kevin Duerr, the chief executive of Durham, N.C.-based Riverturn Inc. "My first reaction was that they're trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the FCC, especially when you see the transparency of their statements.

"It's kind of typical of Apple, not being entirely forthcoming," Duerr said. "They may not be lying when they say 'we didn't reject Google Voice, we're still pondering it,' but then why was my app, and the others, removed from the App Store?"

Duerr was reacting to Apple's response on Friday to FCC inquiries over the company's reported rejection of Google Inc.'s submission of Google Voice to the App Store and the removal of several other programs that used Google's service, including Riverturn's VoiceCentral.

In its official reply to FCC questions (download PDF), Apple denied it had rejected Google Voice, saying it was still studying the "potential impact on the iPhone user experience." It also claimed that VoiceCentral and two other applications fell under the same umbrella of concerns, but did not tell the FCC that it had pulled all three from the App Store the last week of July.

"I wonder if their response has not been calculated to leave them open to reversing course on Google Voice," Duerr said in an interview Saturday. "But it was certainly black and white when we were told that VoiceCentral was being removed."

Just days after VoiceCentral was yanked from the App Store -- after a several month run on the online market -- Duerr slammed Apple over the explanation he was given for his program's removal. During a telephone conversation, an Apple representative told Duerr that VoiceCentral was being dropped because it "duplicates features of the iPhone," but repeatedly refused to answer questions, including what his developers could change to meet Apple's requirements.

It was the contrast with his experience and what Apple told the FCC that drew Duerr's ire on Saturday.

"We've had at least one rejection each time we've submitted an application to the App Store," Duerr said, referring to the three programs that Riverturn eventually placed on the iPhone's mart. "But not once did we ever get specific guidance on why. We were left to our own devices to interpret what they meant and take a flyer on changing it."

According to Duerr, Apple's comments to Riverturn about rejected applications consisted solely of form e-mails that cited sections of its agreement with developers.

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