Google has offered a free app that BlackBerry users can download to read their Gmail on the go, but it has now announced that as of Nov. 22, it will stop. No more downloads, no more technical support if you already have the app. The app will still work if you have it (go to http://m.google.com/mail on your handheld if you still want to get it), but Google says it would prefer you just use the browser on your handheld instead. (Just go to http://www.gmail.com. It’s slow but it works.)
Google’s explanation: “Over this past year, we’ve focused efforts on building a great Gmail experience in the mobile browser and will continue investing in this area.”
On Wednesday a week ago, Google released an app for Apple devices — and pulled it within a few hours. It ran an apology on Twitter: “The iOS app we launched today contained a bug with notifications. We have pulled the app to fix the problem. Sorry we messed up.”
The app for RIM’s BlackBerry devices has not had such problems — but RIM has had its share as it tries to compete with smartphones that use Google’s Android software or Apple’s iOS operating system.
While Google and RIM have played down the decision, Ed Hansberry of Information Week wrote, “When one of the largest email providers in the world drops support for a platform and suggests users wait for a mobile Web page to be developed, it isn’t good.”
Alkesh Shah, an analyst at Evercore Partners in New York who follows RIM, has said, “They made great phones that focus around email, but not around the Internet. And that’s where Apple and Android are way ahead of them.”