Google Blocks Infinite SMS Unlimited Texting App for Apple iPhone
So much for unlimited texting applications on Apple's iPhone: Nearly a month after Seattle startup Inner Fence debuted its iPhone application Infinite SMS, Google says it will block the service, disallowing Inner Fence and all other non-Google software from sending free text messages. In a blog post on Inner Fence's Web site, the company writes Google will begin blocking sometime March 11.
Infinite SMS is an iPhone/iPod touch app that allowed users to send and receive text messages using Google's free SMS service. Released on Feb. 12, 2009, the application was a big success with iPhone and iPod touch owners and quickly rose into the Top 10 Paid Apps, where it remained for 11 days before Google blocked the underlying service. Inner Fence removed it from sale on March 9, 2009.
"We acted in good faith, accessing a feature publicly announced by Google over open protocols they made available. Other non-Google apps have been able to access the SMS feature since its launch," the Inner Fence blog entry said. "To us, this was no different from accessing Gmail's near limitless storage over the open IMAP protocol. We never could have guessed that the two of us would write an app too big for Google."
According to the company, its first warning came March 9 in the form of a phone call, when it was indicated that service might be cut as soon as the following day. "We asked them to reconsider or at least give us more time to change our program or migrate our users," the post states. "We scheduled a call for the next morning to hear Google's final time line."
The company said it immediately removed Infinite SMS from sale because it could not in good conscience continue to sell a product whose lifetime was so likely to be cut short. "Apple does not give app developers any way to perform refunds," the blog said. "Hopefully, at 99??? people will feel like our app paid for itself after only a few messages."
Google released a statement explaining its decision to shut down the Infinite SMS (and all rival) text messaging applications:
Infinite SMS is a third party app that has been using Google technology to provide free SMS for users, while we were paying for the cost of the text messages. While Google is supportive of third party apps, we've decided we can't support this particular usage of our system at this time. SMS chat is still just an experiment in the early testing stages in Gmail Labs. We're blocking all external XMPP clients from sending SMS; we're not singling out Inner Fence.
Inner Fence founders Derek Del Conte and Ryan D. Johnson's current principal concentration is on the Apple App Store.