... The [Google Voice] application has not been approved because, as submitted for review, it appears to alter the iPhones distinctive user experience by replacing the iPhones core mobile telephone functionality and Apple user interface with its own user interface for telephone calls, text messaging and voicemail. Apple spent a lot of time and effort developing this distinct and innovative way to seamlessly deliver core functionality of the iPhone. For example, on an iPhone, the Phone icon that is always shown at the bottom of the Home Screen launches Apples mobile telephone application, providing access to Favorites, Recents, Contacts, a Keypad, and Visual Voicemail. The Google Voice application replaces Apples Visual Voicemail by routing calls through a separate Google Voice telephone number that stores any voicemail, preventing voicemail from being stored on the iPhone, i.e., disabling Apples Visual Voicemail. Similarly, SMS text messages are managed through the Google hubreplacing the iPhones text messaging feature. In addition, the iPhone users entire Contacts database is transferred to Googles servers, and we have yet to obtain any assurances from Google that this data will only be used in appropriate ways. ...
I will start off by saying that I'm not a fan of Google, am a fan but not a fanboy of Apple, and am somewhat neutral on AT&T, at least in comparison to other wireless carriers. (I think most of the responses from those who actually seemed to have read the article and Q&A, and even those who didn't, break down pretty much along the lines of how one feels about the respective companies, so, no point in leaving any doubt.) I also have zero interest in using GV or most other Google services.
First, as to the part about, "that [the iPhone users entire Contacts database] will only be used in appropriate ways," I think the only appropriate way this could be used by Google is, not at all. However, I doubt very much that Google does not make very intensive use of all the contact, and other, information you give them, wittingly or unwittngly. If Apple is truly sincere in what they say here, then, I applaud them.
(Of course, the cynic in me wonders if this isn't just smoke, although, the idealist hopes not.)
As for the rest, I'm somewhat surprised to find that AT&T was not at least in part behind the rejection/holdup of GV.
I'm also sympathetic to Apple's position here. (And, since I have no interest in GV, clearly, I'm not upset by not being able to use it. Replace, duplicate, mimic, call it what you will, it seems pretty clear that the purpose of the GV app is to take over the telephony/messaging/contacts user experience, effectively turning the iPhone into a tool to serve Googles ends, at least for those users who would use GV. I can clearly see why Apple would view this as a competitor's Trojan Horse.
And, while perhaps not for posters on this forum, if the GV app works according to Apple's rather summary description, I do think it could potentially cause a not insignificant amount of user confusion. For example, if a relatively non tech savvy person installs the GV app and starts intermixing use of it with the built in apps of the same functionality, they might well find it confusing that they have voicemails in two different places, receive text messages in two different apps, and so on.
Obviously, this also creates a potential support problem for Apple. I mean, it's not like you can call Google for support, can you? (Well, honestly, I don't know, but I'm not aware of any Google service that they offer phone support for.) And would some users not even distinguish which app they are trying to call or message from, or would they not just assume it's "an iPhone problem" and call Apple, perhaps neglecting to mention that they aren't using the built-in apps for these things?
Still, I think the biggest problem Apple has with GV is, again, based on the summary description, its obvious intent of taking over the iPhone user experience for Google's benefit.
I know a lot of people think Google is an absolutely wonderful, benign company. I on the other hand think they tossed the "do no evil" plan pretty much before they wrote it down. To me at least, it's clear that they intend to control the technology world, and as much as they can reach beyond it, as much as they can, and on a scope that Microsoft never even imagined.
So, if Apple throws a roadblock in their way, in the interests of self preservation, that slows them down a bit, I have no problem with that.