Netflix App for iPhone is Problematic for Apple

As Multichannel News reported last week, Netflix is moving to launch an app for the iPhone that will let users take advantage of the Netflix Watch Instantly service. Already available on a variety of other platforms (see the Multichannel News article for a rundown), its launch for the iPhone puts Apple in a dangerous position in light of the FCC’s recent inquiry into Apple’s rejection of the Google Voice application.

In rejecting the Google Voice application, Apple cited its duplication of functions already available on the iPhone. Considering that Apple’s iTunes store is the world’s most successful digital media store, and iTunes is an essential part of the iPhone experience, I doubt Apple can make a legitimate argument that the Netflix application does not duplicate an already-available feature. After all, the iPhone allows users to download music and video from the iTunes store. If the Netflix application is approved, Apple’s reasoning for denying Google’s Voice application seems inconsistent, to say the least.

As Apple (along with Google and AT&T) has until August 21 to reply to the FCC’s information request, the timing of the Netflix application release will be interesting. The Multichannel News article (published July 30) simply stated that the application would be released “soon.”

How Much Does Illegally Downloading 30 Songs Cost?

According to a federal jury in Boston, $675,000.

The Associated Press reported yesterday that Joel Tenenbaum, a Boston University student originally from Providence, RI, was ordered to pay between $750 and $30,000 per song for the 30 downloads, resulting in the $675,000 fine. Mr. Tenenbaum should be grateful though, as federal copyright law allows for up to a $150,000 fine per occurrence of infringement in this case. Had that been the case, the fine could have been as much as $4.5 million.

Compared with Jammie Thomas-Rasset, a Minnesota woman fined $1.9 million in June for downloading 24 songs, Joel Tenenbaum got off easy. In Thomas-Rasset’s case, she was originally fined a total of $220,000. Upon appeal, the jury awarded the music industry association, RIAA, the much larger fine of $1.9 million.

Of the 30,000 copyright infringement lawsuits brought by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), only these two cases have gone to trial according to the Associated Press.

FCC to Probe Apple’s Rejection of Google Voice application for iPhone

Following Apple’s rejection of the Google Voice application for iPhone, the FCC has begun an inquiry into the matter.

In a letter sent Friday to Apple, the FCC requested information regarding why it rejected Google’s application for the telephony service Google Voice, along with why it then decided to remove applications with similar functionality from it’s App Store. As The Wall Street Journal reports, letters were also sent to Google and AT&T.

The FCC is interested in the approval process Google went through, along with whether any of its other applications have been approved by Apple (sounds like we’re wandering into Google Latitutde territory—why it is a web app on the iPhone again?). The FCC also requested a description of the Google Voice application’s functions.

AT&T, it appears, is involved only because the FCC is curious to know what role, if any, it played in Apple’s decision to reject the Google Voice application. Presumably, given the threat to its bottom line, AT&T had some involvement. After all, the Google Voice application allows users to send unlimited text messages using the wireless subscriber’s data plan, not text messaging allowance. Inexpensive international calls from one’s mobile phone also further cut into AT&T’s revenues.

On the whole, it looks like Apple’s decision to ban Google Voice may have unintended consequences for it and its application developers. But, to the benefit of Apple’s customers and those developers, some light may be shed on the approval process Apple uses, and some consistency could result. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Google Voice

I’ve been using Google Voice ( for a month now and I love it. With the service, you are provided a central phone number that allows you to receive your calls on a variety of phones.

In my case, I have a smartphone and a dumbphone. When I’m using the GPS on my smartphone, I don’t want to take calls because it interrupts my data connection (the joys of CDMA). With Google Voice, I can take the calls on the dumbphone and still use the smartphone for data purposes. The callers are none the wiser. If I need to switch phones during an incoming call, it’s as easy as pressing star.

It’s also useful if one travels to areas where cellphone service can be spotty. I, for example, am spending a few days in New Hampshire. While cell service is spotty, there is a landline phone where I’m staying. With Google Voice, I can add temporary phones for just this situation. By doing so, I can still be reached by phone without having to give out a different number or worry about checking various voicemail systems.

Invites are going out now with fury, so if you’re interested, add your name to the list at