IM service Meebo unveils file sharing

Meebo, provider of a popular instant messaging service, is unveiling a useful service tonight: File sharing.

The Mountain View company is letting users share files with each other, from office documents to photos to music.

Any file under ten megabytes is fair game, although each user is restricted to 30 megabytes per month, and Meebo stores files for only four hours after they’re sent.

As the school year gets going, this service could be a hit.

High school and college students are already some of the most active users of the service. It lets them IM with each other across IM protocols — including AOL’s AIM, Yahoo Messenger and Google Talk — from its web browser. This useful when places like school libraries won’t let students download IM software to their desktop.

More than 6 million people use Meebo per month, and the median age is 21, the company says. Almost every user is between ages 14 and 29. More than 140 million messages are sent through Meebo daily, with about 20 million of those going through Meebo Rooms, its chat room service.

meebo-file.jpgThe file-sharing service works two different ways. If you’re using Meebo’s own chat protocol, simply click the file-sharing icon in the Meebo chat window, upload the file, and hit return to send. Your friend will see an icon of the file in their chat window that they click on to begin downloading it (screenshot to the left).

The company has a necessary but slightly less convenient solution for sharing files with people using Meebo to chat via other IM protocols. If you’re say, chatting with a friend on AIM, your friend will receive a web link to a Meebo page they can download the file from (screenshot below).

xfer-demo-smallest.jpg

The service uses Amazon’s EC2 and S3 services for storing and retrieving files online. It is currently available for Internet Explorer and Firefox, although it plans to support Safari soon.

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