In what is turning out to be a hint of what the FCC may have up its sleeves, Apple has responded to why the Google Voice app was rejected for use with its popular iPhone. You may recall that the FCC had asked Apple, AT&T, and also Google what had happened and why the app was originally rejected.

Here is what the respective companies had to say:

AT&T today told the FCC it had no role in Apple’s decision. “AT&T was not asked about the matter by Apple at any time, nor did it offer any view one way or another,” wrote James Cicconi, AT&T’s senior executive vice president, in a letter to Ruth Milkman, chief of the FCC’s wireless division.

In its letter to the FCC, Apple said, “Contrary to published reports, Apple has not rejected the Google Voice application, and is “still pondering at this time.” The statement seems to leave a door open to the possibility that Apple may approve the app, if it was altered to Apple’s satisfaction.

Until now, Apple has not publicly revealed what its concerns were. Today’s letter lays out at least some of its rationale: “The application has not been approved because, as submitted for review, it appears to alter the iPhone’s distinctive user experience by replacing the iPhone’s core mobile telephone functionality and Apple user interface with its own user interface for telephone calls, text messaging and voicemail.”

In short, Apple is saying it has qualms about Google supplanting the carefully crafted look and feel of the iPhone.

The Google Voice app would let iPhone users manage their home, office or cellphone numbers by routing the calls through a central Google number. It would also record voicemails and send written transcripts of the messages as e-mails, using AT&T’s 3G data network. The app also would allow users to send SMS messages and make inexpensive international calls.

When I first read this I wondered why the FCC even cared? Why did the FCC even ask the companies to comment? Doesn’t Apple have the right to accept or reject any application that runs on their iPhone?

I believe that the FCC is going to be playing a more active role in seeing how companies work together or not work together. The new FCC board will be taking a more active part in trying to determine why broadband is not being made available in rural areas; why cell phone service is so spotty, even in major cities and surrounding areas.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.