Web-based instant-messaging company Meebo has taken a new step forward: bringing its IM technology to partner sites. This fall, Meebo will start powering IM "buddy lists" on a handful of social-media sites so that you can chat with your friends who use those services. They're calling it Community IM.
Right now, the partners announced are the MC Hammer-backed DanceJam, movie fan site Flixster, teen social sites MyYearbook and Piczo, MTV Networks' AddictingGames, SparkArt, women's blog network Sugar, and Tagged.
Altogether, that's more than 54 million users worldwide for Meebo, according to ComScore. But that list will get longer before the service launches, co-founder and CEO Seth Sternberg told me earlier this week. Developers are welcome to check it out now.
The technology itself will undoubtedly remind you of Facebook Chat, the instant-messaging feature that the social network launched earlier this year. It's controlled through a menu bar at the bottom of the site, and will let members know which of their friends are also logged on. The catch is that the window can also pop out, and you can migrate your buddy lists from the likes of Flixster and AddictingGames into the broader Meebo client. Ad revenue will be shared.
Meebo developed the service in response to customer requests, Sternberg told me. And he said it's much-needed, considering traditional IM services often don't reflect all the people with whom we socialize online. "IM is the last communication paradigm that's closed," he told me, and said that Meebo's thinking was to "create one open, federated IM network." It's based on the Jabber open-source platform.
So why make the announcement months before the launch? Sternberg explained that it's mostly to raise awareness and build up interest. But in addition, he said, it's going to be a big project to launch, and he's hoping that engineers looking for jobs will take notice and send their resumes his way.