Only very long time readers will remember our coverage of proximity-based instant messaging service Meetro back in 2005. Meetro is an instant messaging client for Windows and Mac that shows you other users (and their picture) that are physically close to you. Want to make friends with someone sitting near you in a cafe, or who lives in the same, apartment building? Meetro can help you do that.
One problem though…the company has not gathered a critical mass of users and has sort of gone sideways. The company has survived on a very low burn rate, but there isn’t much buzz about it.
Now we’re hearing a rumor that the Meetro team is quietly building a new product – an easy “one-click” way of creating new forum on the fly. Instant messaging and forums are very similar businesses. In effect they are the same thing except that one is synchronous (IM) and one is asynchronous (forums). So the meetro team should have the expertise to create an interesting forum product. As an aside, another startup, Tangler, is tying the instant messaging and forum worlds together.
Meetro is being tight lipped about this, but some of the investors they are pitching are talking. We’ll post more information as we get it.
AOL is also rumored to be releasing a new forum product in the Fall. We’re hearing that the product was handed over to the Userplane team after some development difficulties (Userplane was acquired by AOL in August 2006). The new product is to be called Userplane Boards. Update: Userplane says this is not quite how things are. See CEO Michael Jones’ comment below.