Is Twitter Killing TweetChat?

This morning, Angela Dunn, host of the popular #IdeaChat Twitter chat series, alerted me that something was up with TweetChat:

Yes. TweetChat has posted a notice at the top of its site announcing that “Twitter is changing the way services like @TweetChat deliver data to users. In the very near future, TweetChat will most likely be unable to continue to provide our service.” Why is this a big deal?  People who actively participate in Twitter chats — communities that are organized around hashtags, and that meet on a regular basis to discuss specific topics — rely on TweetChat to help them manage those conversations. Right now, there are very few other options that allow you to easily participate in realtime conversations around a hashtag. So if TweetChat dies, what happens to all of those Twitter chat communities? The problem, apparently, is the latest round of Twitter API changes, now scheduled for June 11, which will prevent applications from using JavaScript to pull data from the Search API:

At a certain point, for a free service such as TweetChat to continue to keep up with the ongoing changes and increased restrictions Twitter is placing on its API access just becomes too difficult. TweetChat first announced the possibility of its demise with this sad-faced Tweet a couple of days ago:

Meanwhile, Twitter chat organizers are freaking out. As Angela Dunn pointed out to me, Twitter is killing communities, not just services.

Will the Twitter chat community find a way to save TweetChat? Or a new platform on which to host chats? Or is Twitter really killing not just an application, but hundreds of chat communities, too?

UPDATE: Angela Dunn estimates that there are more than 600 Twitter chats that might be affected by this. The source is a Google Doc that is currently locked, but at last count listed more than 600 different active chats. ( TweetReport has a list here:  Symplur tracks healthcare twitter chats, and they show 103 “weekly” chats (but many are monthly, too)

UPDATE 5/8: Internet Media Labs has announced the launch of a new, free Twitter chat client called oneQube SmartStream.

UPDATE 6/6: Internet Media Labs announced today that it has acquired TweetChat, which will be relaunched June 11 as a “content hub for everything about Twitter Chats and hashtags.”