Thoughts on YouMail and BlackBerry

A few days ago YouMail announced their final update to their BlackBerry app. This has generated a lot of (misinformed) attention about the future of YouMail, and BlackBerry.

The main problem is that YouMail forgot to consider how their blog post would be read. At BlackBerry 10 Jam, I am going to be giving a talk on how to support your app after launch, and one of the main points is that everything is marketing. This includes blog posts announcing a new release of your product. With a different choice of words in the post, the stories would be about how YouMail is improving their BlackBerry app.

As a business decision, ending future development for the BlackBerry OS is probably the right move for them. They already have a BlackBerry app that has had 2+ years of development behind it. We know that RIM is not going to release any new API’s or formfactors to their current line of phones. So there isn’t too much of a reason why YouMail’s current app couldn’t be good enough to last for the rest of the lifecycle of the current BlackBerry OS. Especially when they have just released a significant update for it.

But it is still a terrible idea to post a statement that you are no longer working on the app.

You need to think before you speak, and put the proper message out there. A month ago I announced that I was no longer going to be supporting BlackBerry devices running OS 4.x in what was actually a rather similar decision. Sure, I was cutting off support for potentially millions of BlackBerry users, because I had determined it wasn’t worth the time. But because I considered the audience that would be reading it, the post got a very different reaction.

In part it was because I wasn’t cutting off support for current devices, but also because I didn’t try to coddle it in half-hearted feel good, whishy washy language. I actually have yet to hear from anyone bothered by my decision.

YouMail’s CEO Alex Quilici however, went out of his way to made things worse, by complaining about BlackBerry to CNN instead of talking up the new features they had just added. Ending with plea for some help from RIM is unlikely go answered, give the unnecessary bad press that YouMail is giving the company. Instead, Alec Saunders is quite understandably pissed off, and called for Quilici to fold his company. (Have I mentioned that this is why I love Saunders?)

It may make sense for YouMail to focus on iOS and Android over BlackBerry (in the short term), but that doesn’t make it a good idea to turn friends in enemies. Yes, you need to be bold, and speak your mind, but you also need to consider the fall out from of what you say. Everything you do has an impact on your brand, and sometimes a stupid blog post has more impact then your app.