While Apple was busy batting away the FCC with its litany of reasons why its app approval process is totally hunky-dory, Google was apparently having its own VoIP-related firefight. It seems that an article in the USA Today which hit newsstands this morning alleges that the internet giant sought to block (dare we say reject) a full Skype application from making its way into the Android Market. The story claims that the application was neutered to become "a watered-down version of the original that routes calls over traditional phone networks" -- which would obviously cast a decidedly malevolent slant to the benevolent company's policies.
The story is surely fine fodder for a FUD enthusiast up to that point, but it appears (gasp) that USA Today may have gotten one minor fact wrong. Namely, that Google had any unsavory aim to clip the wings of the Skype app. According to company man Andy Rubin (on Google's Public Policy Blog), the "lite" moniker was only attached due to technical limitations of the Android platform. In his words:
Here are the facts, clear and simple: While the first generation of our Android software did not support full-featured VoIP applications due to technology limitations, we have worked through those limitations in subsequent versions of Android, and developers are now able to build and upload VoIP services.
As we told USA Today earlier in the week Google did not reject an application from Skype or from any other company that provides VoIP services. To suggest otherwise is false. At this point no software developer -- including Skype -- has implemented a complete VoIP application for Android. 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.
Note the jab there at the end? Okay, swell. Of course, even if Google had rejected the app outright, users still could have installed the software through other avenues, as the Android Market is only a suggestion -- not a mandate -- for how consumers should acquire apps on Google's platform.