Visual Voicemail App Halts BlackBerry Development
April 19, 2012

Visual Voicemail App Halts BlackBerry Development

Michael Harper for

It's likely we´ll be seeing more and more stories like this one in the near future, as YouMail decides to discontinue updating their software for the BlackBerry platform.

In a blog post about the company´s decision, YouMail CEO Alex Quilici says the decision was “bittersweet” as BlackBerry “got us our first million registered users and put us on the map as a company."

YouMail is a visual voicemail application and currently still lists in the top ten most popular apps in the “productivity” section of BlackBerry´s App World store, according to CNN Money.

Blaming both iPhone and the Android operating system, Quilici calls the slow decline of BlackBerry users a “steady exodus,” while users of the other aforementioned smartphones have soared.

"On many days we're now getting fewer BB users than Windows Phone 7 users, and we don't even have a Windows Phone 7 app,” said Quilici. Third party developers are able to license their API and create apps for Windows.

Quilici told CNN Money, "When we began to see that trend, it definitely made us think.”

YouMail currently has 2.5 million registered users of the app.

"Our company is only 10 people in total, and they're all development or customer support," Quilici said. "We need to focus on where we see growth. And right now, it's not BlackBerry."

YouMail began in 2007 as a web-based service and then expanded to mobile in 2009 as BlackBerry users began to ask the Irvine, California based company for an app. RIM was pleased to help them in their development process and gave them a lot of help, according to Quilici. They even featured the app several times in their App World store.

However, the decreasing number of BlackBerry subscribers, coupled with the longer development process for the RIM smartphone caused YouMail to rethink their strategies.

"A feature that took two to three days to build on Android and the iPhone took two to three weeks on BlackBerry," Quilici said. "The platform is getting long in the tooth."

As news began to break of their abandonment of the BlackBerry platform, Quilici reached out himself to RIM, but said even he hasn´t heard anything back.

YouMail discontinuing development for the BlackBerry platform isn´t a death warrant for RIM, but it is certainly a symptom of what is ailing the Waterloo company. As YouMail goes, it is likely many others will, as well.

RIM´s silence on this issue could also be indicative of their new focus on corporate and government markets. On a March 29th earnings call, the new CEO Thorsten Heins said of their new direction, “We can´t do everything ourselves, but we can do what we´re good at.”

As for Quilici and the YouMail team, they´re standing on the sidelines cheering RIM on.

"We're all rooting for BlackBerry over here," he said. "iPhone was a success because it was different and cool, while Android got attention for being largely free and open. I hope RIM finds something like that to differentiate itself."