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YouMail yanked from Android Market due to T-Mobile complaint

UpdatedYouMail, a mobile voicemail and visual message management app, suddenly disappeared from Google’s(s goog) Android Market on Thursday. The free app is still available in Apple’s iTunes Store for iOS devices(s aapl), but Android users looking for the software won’t find it. Why? An apparent complaint from T-Mobile.

I spoke with YouMail CEO Alex Quilici by phone after the app was pulled, and he’s understandably upset. Quilici told me he found out the app was pulled by YouMail’s user base; many of which were complaining they could no longer find the software available for their Android phone. Quilici later saw a message from Google explaining why the app was pulled:

“It has come to our attention that this application could be used in a way that is harmful to devices, networks or users. Specifically, we have received a complaint from T-Mobile that this application is causing adverse network disruption. We encourage you to contact T-Mobile to negotiate a revision and/or agreement to republish this application and update your existing users.”

I asked Quilici if T-Mobile had ever contacted YouMail to complain and he said no. “Other carriers allow and use YouMail, so how could our app be affecting T-Mobile’s network?” Quilici said, noting the company has handled over a billion calls and has well over a million users. In a YouMail blog post, the company is venting its frustration both with T-Mobile and Google:

“We hate to think this is simply anti-competitive behavior on T-Mobile’s part — simply because we’ve produced an innovative and dramatically better voicemail product than they offer, and that’s free on top of it.  Especially given they are trying to finish their acquisition by AT&T. (s t) But we’re hard-pressed to understand their behavior.  Wouldn’t we all be much better off if T-Mobile instead took an approach like the other carriers and tried to see how they could benefit from the success we’ve been having with YouMail?”

And the “guilty until proven innocent” doesn’t speak well for the Android Marketplace either.  At a minimum, if one carrier complains, why not simply turn off the app for that carrier — it’s only one checkbox — versus suspending it from anyone?

YouMail has also struck deals with carriers to add visual voicemail capabilities to handsets. Most recently, YouMail partnered with Viaero Wireless, a regional carrier in Colorado and Nebraska, to pre-install the app on all Android phones offered by the operator. Google’s Android Market doesn’t come into play here, so such deals shouldn’t be affected by this issue.

I’ll be reaching out to T-Mobile and Google for additional information and will update if I hear back. For now, it looks like T-Mobile used the power of Google to hang up on YouMail.

Update: T-Mobile responded to me on Friday morning, with the following statement.

18 Responses to “YouMail yanked from Android Market due to T-Mobile complaint”

  1. This is a good preview of what will happen if SOPA is passed. T-Mobile complains to Google, Google pulls the app from the market, without any due diligence, let alone due process. In exchange for getting virtually exclusive access to public spectrum, the carriers are not supposed to use their power to block the use of applications or devices on their networks. Clearly, the FCC doesn’t feel like it needs to enforce these rules.

    The land-line phone companies were forced to stop bundling service and equipment in the 1980s, but for some reason, the FCC and the FTC allows wireless carriers, who have an even more insurmountable barrier to competition than the wireline companies, to not only force customers to buy over-priced equipment, but also to restrict how people can use their devices. The FCC and FTC must start enforcing the rules that come with the privilege of using public spectrum.

      • rick gregory

        For you, yes. But as Kevin points out, Google removed it from the Market not just for T-Mo users but for all users. While you can sideload apps many phones have that turned off and, anyway, most users won’t have any idea that they can do such a thing nor will they know what an .apk file is much less where to get it.

        PS: The ‘open’ comment was mostly snark. The real point is that you and I aren’t google’s customers so we have no real power or influence. They’ll look after their customers first and those are the carriers and the phone manufacturers. You and I? We’re the *product*.