Seesmic jilts the browser to take a twirl with Twhirl

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Seesmic, the messaging service that’s often called the Twitter of video, has reinforced that comparison by acquiring the Twitter application Twhirl, which lets people read and post to Twitter directly from their desktop.

Twhirl, which is made with Adobe AIR, has the look and feel of an instant messaging client, and Seesmic will use that characteristic to its advantage, making it easier for people to shoot video comments and replies back and forth to each other.

twhirl4.JPG The company didn’t disclose the acquisition price, but it certainly wasn’t much. Twhirl, although it has been downloaded some 100,000 times, is an unfunded one-man startup begun as a hobby, and Seesmic has only taken $6 million and is similarly cash-flow free. The founder of Twhirl, Marco Kaiser, is joining Seesmic to work on the application full-time.

Seesmic itself has yet to be proven; some users love the ability to post short, video-form updates and comments, while others hate what they see as the banality of droning on to a webcam. (see the comments on our last story). But what’s really interesting about this acquisition is that it’s both combining two different communication services, and moving them back out of the web browser.

It has almost become gospel that new applications need to be web-based, but a website just doesn’t seem to cut it, for quite a few services — Twitter and Seesmic included.

“Everything we have is decentralized, but it’s good to have it all back in one place, which FriendFeed is also doing. It’s the way to go,” Seesmic founder Loic Le Meur told me. He says that Seesmic is busy building itself out into different services, including an embeddable widget, a Facebook application, and FriendFeed integration, which was just added today. “Seesmic.com, we hope, will be the least-used tool,” he said.

That creates the danger for Seesmic of putting its eggs in too many baskets. Users seem to want more features and faster service, but the company will find those more challenging to implement on multiple platforms. Le Meur says he’s held off the official launch of Seesmic until late April to iron out those very problems.

At the same time, he hopes Twhirl will blossom on its own, and become a central point for messaging of all sorts. It’s adding in Twitter competitors Pownce and Jaiku, and Le Meur suggested that instant messaging, Flickr streams and other applications could also make their way onto it.


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