Generally, it isn’t kind to kick someone when they’re down, but AT&T and Apple deserve it in this case. Word came out today via TechCrunch that Apple has pulled a pair of third-party Google Voice-enabled applications from the App Store. Apple also blocked Google’s official Google Voice app from ever seeing the light that is App Store glory. After waiting probably two years for my GrandCentral invite request to come through, I was finally green-lighted for a new and improved Google Voice account earlier this month. I’ve been toying around with the service for a few weeks now and it is remarkable. For starters, it begs the question: Why pay AT&T $5 a month for 200 text messages when I can receive unlimited SMS for free on Google Voice via the monthly $30 data plan I also pay for on my iPhone 3G S. I’m all about getting more for less these days. And I sure as hell don’t like paying for duplicate services. SMS is data no matter how you slice it and I want it included in my data plan. That’s why I was so thrilled to see Google Voice applications launched for BlackBerry and Android earlier this month. That paired with talk of an iPhone app in the works was all I needed to hear.
Google Voice has helped convince me that there will soon be a day where I will be able to kill my voice and SMS plans and go completely data-centric. I’ve already gone data-only on my BlackBerry with T-Mobile and it’s been a wonderful experiment. Calls can now be received via Google Voice or Skype and I have thoroughly enjoyed cutting my T-Mobile bill in half in the process. I was eager to check out the Google Voice app on my iPhone next, but now it appears that may never happen. Shocked? No. I understand why AT&T and Apple want to hold on to the revenue streams they currently rely on. Is it fair for consumers? No. AT&T and Apple get paid handsomely by me and tens of millions of other iPhone users for an inadequate data network and spotty voice service. If AT&T were providing a worthy network experience I might feel better about the bill I pay for its service every month, but I don’t. Now with AT&T crippling the possibility of Google Voice as an app on millions of iPhones, I’ll just have to look elsewhere. I wasn’t necessarily looking for a challenge, but I’m happy to see this experiment through. Google has already promised an optimized Google-voice experience via the Safari browser on the iPhone and I’m sure other improvements will come along quickly. In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying my Google Voice application on the BlackBerry and dreaming of cutting even more overpriced services from my cellphone bills. I’m looking forward to the journey.