Apple Looking to Acquire iCall?

Silicon Alley Insider reports that it has received an unconfirmed tip claiming that Apple is in talks to purchase Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) provider iCall.

One reader just sent us a message that Apple is in talks to acquire VoIP company iCall in a $50 million to $60 million deal.

As expected, iCall CEO Arlo Gilbert refused to comment on the rumors, and Apple has not offered a statement on the issue.

The report comes amidst growing competition between Apple and Google that has extended to corporate acquisitions with Apple's purchase of Lala Media and Google's earlier acquisition of AdMob. In both instances, sources have claimed that the other company had been involved in talks with the targeted companies and considering purchases.

As for reasons why Apple might be considering purchasing iCall, Silicon Alley Insider suggests that Apple may want to have a VoIP solution in its arsenal as customers increasingly take interest in moving from traditional voice services to more Web-based approaches.

As data networks evolve, it will be possible to make calls as well over the Internet as by using a voice network, and cheaper. (It's already getting there.) And that's when Apple may seek to increase its control over iPhone owners -- and recurring revenue from them -- by becoming a VoIP service provider. Moreover, as that becomes a bigger industry, Apple should not give that business to Skype, Google, or anyone else.

The report also notes that iCall, with over 100,000 users, should have a good handle on the VoIP industry, and also happens to own the "iCall" trademark that Apple could conceivably be interested in, although that alone clearly would not be sufficient reason for an acquisition.