mocoNews - Google Blocks Infinite SMS; iPhone App Forced To Shut Down

Dianne See Morrison
Wednesday, March 11, 2009; 8:00 AM

Infinite SMS, the paid-for iPhone applicaton, that allowed users to send free text messages has been forced to shut down a month after it went on sale in the App Store, according to its developer Inner Fence. The third party application had been tapping into Google's free Gmail Labs SMS service to provide free texts for its users while the search giant was footing the bill for the cost of the messages.

In a statement that Inner Fence published on its blog, Google (NSDQ: GOOG) said that it wasn't singling out Inner Fence, and would be blocking all external XMPP clients from sending SMS. The search giant added, "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."

Surely Inner Fence couldn't have expected Google to tolerate any third party application that was earning money while it was paying for the cost of running the service?

Read Inner Fence's defense after the jump.

Inner Fence writes that they "acted in good faith" when it built Inifinite SMS, which sold for $0.99 on the App Store, noting that it had accessed "a feature publicly announced by Google over open protocols they made available." It argued that to it, "this was no different from accessing Gmail's near limitless storage over the open IMAP protocol." Inner Fence writes its problem was that the app "brought too many users (and thus too much cost)." Infinite SMS was released in mid-February and according to the two-man company gained a particularly strong following with iPod touch users who wanted an iPhone-like way to exchange text messages with their friends. The app cracked the Top 10 Paid Apps, where it remained for 11 days before Google blocked the service. For those users who paid for Infinite SMS, Inner Fence won't be able to refund their money, as the App Store doesn't permit this. Inner Fence wrote, "Hopefully, at $0.99 people will feel like our app paid for itself after only a few messages."

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