In light of today's response by Apple to the FCC about the Google Voice rejection, and anticipating the likely, negative reaction it will engender, I'm again left thinking that Apple and their iPhone are closer akin to a restaurant, not a super market.

Steve Jobs is like one of those screaming, perfectionistic executive chefs concerned more with his haut cuisine than his customers, whose palettes he believes tempered by years of McRosoft (or whatever). He -- and they -- will serve you a beautiful, delicious, premium plate but will also decide every single ingredient that goes on it, if not tell you exactly how they want you to eat it. If you go to a restaurant, you know what you're in for. You don't go to Nobu and throw a fit because they refuse to serve you spaghetti, or let you run into the kitchen and whip up your own meal.

Other companies might be more like super markets, where you can indeed assemble your own meal from whatever they sell -- though they'll still stock the shelves with what they want, and not what they don't want. More freedom, more work for the customer, and some will gladly take control over ease of use.

Typically, most of us go to restaurants AND shop at super markets, depending on what we feel like at the time. Likewise, some of us want that Apple-polished experience, others want more ability to roll their own.

With Google Voice specifically, Apple's not letting that hot new sous-chef in the door, perhaps because they suspect he's going to alter the menu in a profound way, then open up down the street and take all their customers. IBM learned that very painfully when they licensed DOS from Microsoft for the PC -- sometimes you create your own killer.

Ultimately, the iPhone is Apple's restaurant and Steve Jobs is the executive chef, and whether the lease with the booze supplier (AT&T) prohibits certain other cocktails (Skype, SlingPlayer), or Apple refused to let certain food in the place, it's still their restaurant, and they control the menu.

Apple should just be honest about it and tell users and developers like it is -- an iPhone is an appliance, no different than a Nintendo Wii or any other closed box. Right now, they're feigning greater openness than they're actually providing, causing prolonged confusion and ill-will. Say it straight, it's our iPhone point finale, take the hit from users and developers who'll leave, and then everyone else knows what it is when they pick it up and sign the contract, and it's their responsibility.