We’ve heard stories like this time and time again, whether we’re talking about tethering apps or Google Wallet, where wireless carriers make demands about which apps should and shouldn’t be available on phones accessing their networks. In a perfect world, the only ones who would have any say over what the apps on your phone can do would be you and the app developers, but the reality is that app store owners and the carriers have far too much money invested in the smartphone ecosystem to relinquish the control they hold. As a result, when an app threatens the business model or network stability of a carrier, there’s going to be heavy pressure on app stores to restrict that offending app. The latest to become so notorious is visual voicemail app YouMail, which has been removed from the Android Market under T-Mobile’s direction.
According to the e-mail YouMail received from Google, T-Mobile reported that YouMail was causing “adverse network disruption”, so Google yanked it from the Market. Just how that went down, though, is raising a few eyebrows.
YouMail reports that T-Mobile never once contacted the company regarding any such network concerns, explaining just what issue it had with the app’s behavior nor giving YouMail an opportunity to fix things. That’s got the company suspicious that T-Mobile is really just trying to eliminate competition for its own voicemail offering, instead of seeing the supposed issue resolved.
It’s hard to pass judgment in this case without more details about just what these network disruptions consisted of, but YouMail does make some good points. For instance, no other carrier has complained of any issues, and if there’s really a problem that’s limited to T-Mobile, why not block the app for just that carrier, instead of removing it from the Market altogether? It’s also worth noting that Amazon continues to carry YouMail in its store.
We’re really curious to see how this plays out, and if there turns out to be any merit to T-Mobile’s complaints. At the least, it’s yet another reminder of just how much influence carriers continue to hold over which apps we have access to.