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YouMail makes a play for more revenue

Posted by Alan at 9:41 AM on December 5, 2012

I don’t know if I should be happy or angry with YouMail today. Every company needs to make money or otherwise it has a way of ceasing to exist. YouMail has a great free version of it’s service and I have been a happy customer for quite some time now. Today, however, a message in my inbox announced some changes, none of which I found to be beneficial to me or the other free users out there.

I am happy to know that the company is moving forward and working to be profitable because I don’t want them to go away. I also respect the fact that YouMail flat out sent me an email to explain the changes the company is making. On the other hand I am losing features and gaining ads, which is never a good combination.

The feature being lost is SMS. When a call is missed or a voice mail is received then YouMail sends both a text message and an email. Now, users will have to rely on just the email — or the web site or the app. You will also be seeing more ads as well.

Of course, all of this can be avoided by upgrading to a Pro account, which will set you back $2.99 per month. That’s not a bad price and it does include a bit more than just SMS and a lack of ads.

As for me? I will live with losing SMS and seeing a few more ads.

5 Comments

  1. From YouMail at 10:00 am on December 5, 2012

    What we’re trying to do is make sure the free service can be self-sustaining for our nearly 4 million free accounts. That means eliminating the really expensive features and trying to make sure that the costs we do have for it are covered.

    SMS is a particularly huge cost driver, but for the vast majority of people it’s just not necessary. Smart phones support push notifications or e-mail alerts, both of which we continue to offer for free. As a result, we expect the vast majority of people will realize they don’t need them, which helps everyone (we’re not wasting money, they’re still getting notified). For those who use them, covering the cost (and giving them a bunch of other features besides), seems fair.

    As for ads, well, it’s really hard to run a free service without some advertising baked into it – for example, have you used Pandora lately? But we’re not going overboard – no video ads, etc.., just a small banner in the apps and in the emails we send people.

    We understand if some people aren’t happy with this, but as you point out, businesses need to at least cover costs in order to stick around.

  2. From Alan Buckingham at 12:58 pm on December 5, 2012

    I do not disagree with any of what you said. Personally I rely on the text because I get so many emails I rarely click the notification right away. However, since I don’t need the other features, I would be essentially be paying for the SMS, which isn’t worth it for me personally. As for ads, I know they are a necessary part of most free apps so as long they aren’t overly obtrusive it should be ok.

  3. From Former User at 12:23 pm on December 9, 2012

    Where is the 2.99 option? What do you get? Seems like they should have offered something in between the 4.99 per month and the 9.99 per year option. Most of us dont need all the stuff in the 4.99 option. You all missed an option for those who dont want adds and want txt notification. Make it happen PLEASE!

  4. From Reid Breitman at 12:34 am on December 12, 2012

    First, I LOVE YOUMAIL, and I am grateful for having it for free all this time, although I would have paid for it, and paid a LOT more than they are asking, on day one. Getting my messages by email with an mp3 file is priceless, because it allows me to save the insanely cute messages I get from my young children from time to time. It is great that YouMail has given 4 million people a FREE gift all this time. But YouMail definitely has the right to alter that gift, discontinue it, or do whatever it wants, because no one paid for it, and it is not like anyone gets hurt by not having it (like losing contacts info, etc.). For me, I don’t need the SMS; I just want that MP3. But if YouMail is making the effort to make these changes, it is because YouMail needs to do it. They need money. They need to have a sustainable business model. And if for nothing else, I am very happy to pay $2.99 per month just out of gratitude for the last several years of the very generous FREE gift YouMail has given us. YouMail, you ROCK, and I’ve told so many people about your fantastic service, and again I thank you very much. Now where do I sign up?!

  5. From Alan Buckingham at 5:27 am on December 12, 2012

    Actually MP3 files will no longer be attached to the emails either.