Goowy is slowly rolling out its new web instant messaging and online storage services to users. I showed screen shots (provided by Goowy) earlier this month, and have now had a chance to use the features directly. My overall impression: Goowy is turning into a very nice Flash-based desktop replacement, but has some issues to work out on performance.
Instant messaging compatibility is good (think Meebo – which I’ve written about here). You can use MSN, Yahoo, ICQ and AOL accounts or talk to other Goowy users directly. Setup was easy, and it worked flawlessly. A number of emoticons are supported. My only complaint is that the first message you send to anyone says “(Sent using goowy web messenger. Check it out at http://www.goowy.com )” which is annoying.
Goowy IM does not yet support group chat, although CEO Alex Bard says that is coming. Another nice feature is the ability to pull a chat window out of the browser window and into its own resized window on the desktop, to look and feel more like a standard IM client.
Online storage (see image at end) is a very nice feature add as well. They haven’t built this themselves. Instead they are using the box.net API on the back end. Goowy is giving every user 1 GB of free storage, with 5 GB for $5/month coming soon. Given the new pricing benchmarks set by Amazon recently, I expect these prices to come down over time. Goowy storage has a straightforward uploading tool, and files can be tagged and set to private, public or shared.
The only issue I saw with the storage feature was on performance – it was very slow. This is understandable given that the product is still in very early private alpha and I would expect speed to increase dramatically prior to public launch. Box.net needs to add support for a client based uploader too, at the earliest possible date.
Goowy is backed by Mark Cuban (as is Box.net) and other investors. Traffic continues to rise steadily and they seem to have a very loyal user base based on comments left on this blog from previous writeups. It’s way too early to say what Goowy’s fate will be, but I am encouraged to see them (as well as Netvibes) begin to distance themselves from the pack.