Some 200,000 people there downloaded the app between Sunday and Tuesday, says Micha Benoliel, CEO of Open Garden, the company behind Fire Chat, sending it skyrocketing to the top of the region's app-store charts.
Speaking from Hong Kong, Benoliel tells TIME that Fire Chat's sudden popularity there isn't a "complete surprise" because it was also popular with Taiwanese protesters last March.
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If you've ever been crammed into a stadium alongside thousands of screaming football or music fans, you already know what the tens of thousands of demonstrators pouring into Hong Kong this week are learning: when you pack that many people into a tiny area, your phone's Internet grinds to a halt.
Smartphones should make it easier to organize protests, but they're as good as bricks when cell towers get overloaded with traffic or when governments decide to flip the switch.
Unlike chat programs that work over the Internet, Fire Chat connects directly to other nearby users within up to about 250 ft.
More people in range can then join the chat, extending the network even further.
Still, Fire Chat isn't perfect for protesters.
The chat rooms are open, making it easy for a first-timer to join — but that first-timer could also be a local authority poking around at the goings-on.
Also you presume that the FDH has no time off during the day, what about the situations where the employers go to work, the kid goes to work and the FDH has the daytime alone?
True in some cases there are cameras checking on them but this I believe is not the normal case, most employers expect the FDH to manage their time, complete their tasks and take breaks or relax accordingly.
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The idea's been around for decades, now popular as a way to communicate during disasters like hurricanes.