The Canadian makers of a popular mobile chat app have lost the support of Research In Motion and could face a user exodus if a compromise isn't reached.
Kik Messenger, a free instant chat app that quickly went viral and acquired a million users in two weeks, has been turfed from BlackBerry App World. And while the chat program - a competitor to RIM's own BlackBerry Messenger - used to send and receive messages nearly instantaneously, it's now taking up to an hour to transmit on BlackBerrys.
Messages are still being sent normally on iPhones and Android devices.
In a blog post, Kik CEO Ted Livingston calls on RIM to reverse its decision and stop blocking the app. Livingston said nearly one million of its 2.5 million users were using the BlackBerry platform.
"RIM's actions are a huge blow," Livingston said.
"We have worked day and night to build a super-fast, reliable and free cross-platform instant messaging app. This includes more than a year of development for BlackBerry smart phones. We have worked co-operatively with RIM at every step. We think it's fair to say that, until very recently, our relationship has been nothing less than friendly."
In a statement, RIM said a "number of issues and customer concerns" caused Kik to be blocked.
"RIM concluded that Kik had breached contractual obligations. Based on the broad scope and seriousness of the issues and concerns, RIM terminated its agreements with Kik and withdrew RIM's support for Kik's service."
Livingston said Kik had been recently updated to address battery usage issues and privacy concerns about how the app scanned a user's contacts. He thought enough had been done to satisfy RIM's concerns.
"We are confident there is no reason service should be denied to Kik users," he said.
Livingston also acknowledged Kik's similarities to BlackBerry Messenger and said he hopes Kik wasn't taken down for competitive reasons.
"We would be surprised and disappointed if there is any truth to this, as RIM has always championed the BlackBerry ecosystem as an open platform. However, if true, the implications would go well beyond Kik to the entire mobile community, users and developers alike," he said.
"We urge RIM to embrace the spirit of a fair and open mobile platform that will enrich their users with more great new apps. Everyone - BlackBerry users, Kik users, our businesses and the wider smart phone community - will win."
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