“The Federal Communications Commission has launched an inquiry into why Apple Inc. rejected Google Inc.’s Internet-telephony software for the popular iPhone, another sign of the Obama administration’s stepped-up scrutiny of competitive practices in the technology industry,” Fawn Johnson and Amy Schatz report for The Wall Street Journal.

“In letters sent late Friday to the two companies and AT&T Inc., the FCC asked why Apple rejected the Google Voice application for the iPhone and removed related applications from its App Store. The letter also seeks information on how AT&T, the exclusive U.S. iPhone carrier, was consulted in the decision, if at all,” Johnson and Schatz report. “The FCC’s letter to Google asks for a description of the Google Voice application and whether Apple has approved any other Google applications for its store.”

Johnson and Schatz report, “Google Voice assigns a single phone number to a user’s cellphone, land line or Internet phone accounts. It also allows free text messaging and inexpensive international calls.”

“On Tuesday, Google said Apple wouldn’t let it distribute the software through its App Store, where iPhone users can download software. Apple has previously turned away Internet-telephony programs because they repeated key iPhone functions,” Johnson and Schatz report.

Johnson and Schatz report, “In a statement Friday, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said the FCC ‘has a mission to foster a competitive wireless marketplace, protect and empower consumers, and promote innovation and investment.’ The inquiry isn’t a formal investigation, but it is notable because the FCC hadn’t received a complaint about Apple’s rejection of Google Voice.”

Full article here.

The FCC’s letters (.pdf) to each company:
• Apple
• AT&T
• Google