Meebo is turning its instant message aggregator service into a “platform” that other web companies can use to build instant message features into their own sites. The new platform, officially called Meebo Community Instant Messaging, is a way for the company to take advantage of a trend in social web sites — sites turning their user bases into IM chat lists.
Myspace and Facebook, the two largest social networks in the world, have already launched their own chat services so their users can IM with each other without having to log into existing IM services like AOL’s AIM or Yahoo’s Messenger. Meebo is trying to do the same thing for every other social network and consumer web service that wants to offer IM, but doesn’t want to go through the hassle of building it.
In fact, Meebo has already reported significant traffic from its chat room widget, Meebo Rooms, that other third party application services have embedded within Facebook applications.
The eight launch partners range from social networks including myYearbook, Tagged and photo-sharing service Piczo and movie site Flixster, to fashion blog network Sugar Publishing, dance video site DanceJam, Nickelodeon’s game site AddictingGames, and SparkArt. For example, a high schooler on mYearbook could log into that site, and start chatting with mYearbook friends.
AOL’s AIM, Microsoft’s Live Messenger, Google’s Gtalk and Yahoo’s Messenger services have been around for years, but this may be some new competition — if it turns out lots of people want to chat through branded widgets on other sites. Meebo originally became popular because it allowed IM users to combine friend lists from all of these rivals within its own IM service. It later launched Rooms and now claims the majority of its 35 million monthly unique visitors from Rooms. (Note: The Meebo Rooms stat has been criticized in the past, as its room feature seems to sometimes count a single visitor to a room as multiple visitors).
Mountain View, Calif.-based Meebo has also been cutting advertising deals with record labels. It is making money now. Its new platform also includes an immediate way to monetize. It will let a partner run its newly-launched in-IM ads within its own site, and split the revenue. The company says these ads are doing quite well by industry standards, currently getting a 1.5 percent clickthrough rate.
Meebo’s bid is to become the way people IM instead of AIM, Y! Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, Gtalk, Myspace chat or Facebook chat. It points out that the combined number of users of these new partners is more than 56 million — if it can get those sites’ users on its service, it will be on its way to be the IM service for everybody else.
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