Last week, Yammer, the business-oriented microblogging platform that won TechCrunch50 2008, sent out invites to press inviting them to virtually attend a “major launch event” that will be broadcast through a WebEx meeting tomorrow morning. The company has also posted an invite to its blog, along with a not-so-subtle jab at its competitors: “Forget all that over-hyped chatter and annoying buzz, Yammer is releasing the next wave in Enterprise Microblogging“.
So what exactly is Yammer about to introduce? We’re hearing from one source that the company is planning to start allowing people to create networks that aren’t built around web domains. That may not sound like a big deal, but it would be a major change for Yammer, and one that could open it up to a huge number of new users.
Until now, in order to create a Yammer network you’ve needed to have email addresses associated with your own business domain name (say, firstname.lastname@example.org) . This works great for sizable companies (everyone who has an email account on that domain is automatically placed into the correct network), but it’s a big limitation on who can actually use the service — plenty of businesses and organizations don’t have their own domain names.
Depending on how Yammer rolls this out, there could be countless uses for this. Last summer, I wrote about how useful it would be to have a Yammer for families that would allow family members to easily share information in a centralized place (and get SMS alerts if something important came up). Local groups could set up Yammer accounts to share information instead of relying on long Email chains, and so on. But Yammer wouldn’t be alone here — a recently launched startup called HipChat is already going after this broad market.
We’ll have more details tomorrow at 11 AM. And if you’re interested, the WebEx meeting is apparently open to the public.