In the current FCC-involved kerfuffle over why Apple or AT&T blocked Google Voice on the iPhone, I see opportunity.
I am not convinced that AT&T is the reason for blocking the app. It certainly could be, but from a technical perspective, a Google Voice call is the same as an AT&T call. It doesn’t strain their network.
The only person to touch on a plausible explanation is Michael Arrington who notes that number portability is the real bugaboo from AT&T’s perspective. But keep in mind that AT&T allows Google Voice on Blackberries, on the same network.
What’s being missed is that this is a huge opportunity for Sprint and Verizon. They can simply announce that, hey, if you want Google Voice, come to our network. Use it on an Android, Blackberry or (hopefully soon) a Palm Pre. Lots of passionate folks would give up the iPhone for Google’s killer app. Palm and Google would have great incentive to buddy up and makes this seamless.
At which point, Apple and AT&T would then be forced to respond and would likely grit their teeth and support it too. Everyone — well, every consumer — wins.
I am sad to see the FCC involved, when the above solution is so much better. If AT&T or Apple were monopolists, there might be a reason for them to step in. But litigation costs always end up borne by the consumer.