What happened to Utterli?

For years I was a faithful Utterli user – which some of you may remember was originally Utterz. It was a great site for mobile social networking before everyone had smart phones. You could call up, leave a voice post, and you were done. You could also float text, video and picture posts on it, but mostly it was a mobile podcasting site that was brilliant for those of us who still had flip phones.

So what happened to Utterli? I was going to include a link to them, but the site is now unloadable. No one has posted to the Utterli Twitter account in almost a year. I can still find a listing for my utters on Google, but there’s no cached version. Translation: Google remembers there being something there once, but can’t find it anymore.

What’s ominous is that there is no news on what happened to them – no press release from their owner RPM Communications, Inc., no former employees, nothing. It’s like a Stephen King novel: One day, the residents of Utterli simply vanished.

Of course, there were problems for Utterli during their tenure, and the combination of all of them easily could have done them in. What happened to them has yet to be released by the company. But it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to figure out why they aren’t around anymore:

1) The name change. You spend all that time establishing a brand, then you do a flip? Not advisable. Sure, the original name brought to mind cow teats. So what? Own it and move on!

2) Inception of the smart phone, so people didn’t need an easy solution for mobile posting. When I was stuck in the Virgin Mobile ghetto, all I needed were text posts to BrightKite and phone posts to Utterli and I was set. Once I got an Android phone, though, my options opened up – everyone’s did. With that added competition, a simple site like Utterli couldn’t last.

3) Twitter clone perception. Not long into it’s life, people started using Utterli the same way they’d use Twitter: Quick text posts. My reason for joining – hearing what people were up to – got swept aside. Personally, I would have prefered it if they’d limited people to voice only posts in order to keep the initial idea pure.

4) Discontinuing International dial-up number. This probably didn’t represent a great deal of traffic, so fine. I surely wasn’t effected. But it didn’t look good for them, and signaled to many of us that they were hurting.

5) The recession. This killed a whole lot of businesses, as recessions are supposed to. They separate the wheat from the chaff. Since Utterli wasn’t a well managed site, and offered little in the way of technological improvements over its lifetime, you don’t have to be John Deere to see it was chaff.

The short answer on what happened to Utterli? It faded away. Unlike other social sites that died in the last year or so, Utterli didn’t make an announcement or show of their departure. In fact, except for those of us who discovered them in their heyday, I wonder how many people would have cared if they did announce they were done.


  1. I was just thinking about Utterli. I resented the name change. I liked the name Utterz and the cow theme.

    I think that a mobile app off the bat, that used 3G data instead of mobile minutes might have kept it relevant. The second I got an iPhone, I stopped using it since I didn’t want to pay for minutes, as it was a huge bump in what I was paying for my standard Motorola candy bar phone.

    1. Thanks Ian – and IMHO your site is a great idea! If I’m ever in the 646 I’ll hit you up to meet for coffee.

      As for Utterli, I agree completely. First, that the name change was lame. I kept calling it “Utterz” anyway if only out of spite.

      I also think an app would have worked well for them, if they’d stayed around long enough. My guess is a site that relied so heavily on phone use wasn’t sexy enough for a lot of VC.

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  4. Utterli was among my favorite social services. I used to have a social media conference call and record it with Utterli, cross-post it to Twitter and then embed it in my blog.

    I remember when I had discovered they had closed. I was somewhat sad. Despite my having a smart phone, being able to record for an hour and embed a conference call… It was a great service.

    1. Tumblr has the same technology, but there was something nice about calling up and listening to people’s posts. I drifted away from it because there were just too many text posts, and most of them from spammers.

    2. I lost a decent amount of content myself. I had done a bunch of blog posts, there for a while, by phoning in and then using the embed feature to post the recording. I kinda liked the effect, but I quit doing it after a while.

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