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Is Apple Stopping Progress?

It's time not to put the hammer down, but to throw it up again. Yesterday Nimbuzz made noise via GigaOm's Om Malik, with news of their client now offering what is called Nimbuzz Out, which is in many ways a clone of Fring, Skype Out and Truphone combined, as the new feature it allows calls to real telephone numbers on the iPhone, just like Truphone, as well as how Skype works with their own client that works on Nokia phones in the UK and a few others where Three already has installed the iSkoot gateway technology.

One of the assertions in Om's post was that:

"If you are using it on an iPhone, then you have to use the Wi-Fi connection, which makes me a tad upset because you can make Skype calls over 3G. You can make NimbuzzOut calls via 3G on Symbian phones, however."

While it's known that on jailbroken phones that applications like Skype will work over 3G, for the rest of us who play by the rules, calls like that just won't happen as Apple's current software prevents that from occuring.

Om later in the day came out with some clarification in his next post about Apple, basically laying placing fault on their doorstep and putting them under the bus for the lack of 3G Data network access for applications like Skype, Fring and client Truphone, as well as Nimbuzz. Om clearly points out that the apps like Nimbuzz (and Truphone) have worked for some time on 3G on Symbian devices-like the Nokia N95 or E71, and I'll add, where permitted by the carrier agreements.

The fact that on the iPhone calls over 3G are not yet possible is more than likely tied to the fact that Apple's Terms and Conditions, which sets the ground rules for developers, to program under have not yet been updated to reflect that capability, so while possible, the apps can't yet do what we all know is possible.

Is this defensible? Well if you're Apple, you take the perspective that you have more customers of iPhones in the carriers who do not permit 3G calling, and that AT&T is just one of them that want's to. But then that's where Apple loses. And again, the proof point is voice, and specifically Skype, which was barred from being available in Canada while a patent rights issue was resolved. At that time, those of us in the good old USA and in other countries around the world were able to enjoy Skype on our iPhones. That meant Apple has the ability to localize where certain versions of applications are available, or even to be available at all. This is no different than with music, TV programs or movies, all of which have various rights issues that involve borders and regions.

To be clear, if I'm a USA Apple iTunes user who subscribes to downloading of MadMen in the the USA, I can get the current third season from Apple's iTune's store as long as I have a valid USA credit card and billing address. However, if I'm in the UK, with a UK credit card and billing address I could only get season two of Mad Men from iTunes and I'd not have any visibility to year three. On the other hand, if I had bank accounts and addresses in both nations, I could simply switch between the two accounts and have the best of both worlds. Those two sceanrios in effect negates the potential argument from Apple about not being able to allow in the USA 3G Data Network accessible versions of Skype, Nimbuzz, Fring and Truphone from being in the App Store now.

So with all that as history, precedent and color I ask the question, is Apple's stopping progress? Or better put, who is going to be throwing the hammer.


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Maybe it is because apps can't run in the background (which they can on Symbian and Android).
Having a VoIP experience where you can not receive calls is half a VoIP experience.

Andy Abramson

Right, AT&T announced. Apple has yet to change their Terms and Conditio ns so the apps are not capable yet. AT&T really never blocked Vo3G, as it worked on Symbian devices for a while now.

I hope this clarifies the point.

I cannot agree with more with you times it even looks like AT&T is taking Apple for a ride. I guess the sooner Apple realizes that they do not need the crutches any more, the better it is for them in the long run. Somewhat related to what you say here, read why Apple cannot sit back on 100,000 apps?


A month ago Apple and AT&T announced a change in this policy. Apps can now do VoIP calls over 3G:

So I don't understand what the issue is here?

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