(According to Mike Brus, scores of “guys have made huge amounts writing scripts at home to create applications that Apple puts on iPhone.” Recently, Apple announced that three billion downloads have been made on iPhone already.)
Whatever cash Newber might have earned, its being on the iPhone would have produced a secondary benefit, according to Thomas. “It would have gotten our name out there, while our company was in the throes of introducing” a new product. That product is called FreedomIQ, software that runs PBX systems for businesses. “In the end, we want to tie Newber into FreedomIQ as a platform to simplify the use of it. That’s the real promise for the technology.”
Thomas is optimistic, yet his feelings are mixed. He retains great bitterness toward the way Apple has treated his company. “My fantasy world very early in the application process had Apple calling me up and wanting to do comarketing. That didn’t happen.”
In developing Newber, Thomas wrote in an open letter that can still be found on the device’s webpage that FreedomVoice spent $500,000 on “R&D, architectural changes, patent application, and marketing that has accomplished next to nothing.” The letter quotes a remark once made by Apple’s Steve Jobs that the App Store is “the best deal going to distribute applications to mobile platforms.” Writes Thomas, “Our experience is that it is the worst deal going.”
By late summer, Apple’s high-handed procedures were being questioned in a number of media outlets after Apple rejected Google Voice, an application that has similarities to Newber. It turns out the Federal Communications Commission had already begun to look into the matter. On July 31, James Schlichting, the agency’s acting chief of its wireless telecommunications bureau, wrote to Apple demanding information on its approval methods. The letter suggested suspicions of antitrust violations and included the following questions. “Why did Apple reject the Google Voice application for iPhone and remove related third-party applications from its App Store?” “Did Apple act alone, or in consultation with AT&T, in deciding to reject the Google Voice application and related applications?” “Does AT&T have any role in the approval of iPhone applications generally?” “What are the standards for considering and approving iPhone applications?”
Meanwhile, on the Newber website, a digital clock called “Awaiting App Store Approval” keeps track of how long it’s been since FreedomVoice submitted its request for Newber’s approval. As of this writing, the ticker reads 473 days, 10 hours, 22 minutes, and 17 seconds.