One of the bigger letdowns of the iPhone is a lack of instant messaging support. Last month we took a look at FlickIM one of the first iPhone-specific chat applications (but only for AIM). Older web chat startups Meebo and eBuddy also have their own applications. eBuddy’s is iPhone customized. Meebo doesn’t hide the fact that they will launch one soon.
The application consists of three different pages: log in, contacts, and chat. Clicking on a contact opens up a new conversation tab in your chat pane. It worked well enough, with a reasonable response time and legible text. It’s better than eBuddy (load time issues) and FlickIM (AIM only).
So why in the world will they eventually charge $11 for it?
There are way better ways to monetize software. Offer a free version and drop an advertisement into the conversation every once in a while, for example. But if Mundu wants to get a lot of users fast before Apple adds their own apps, they can’t be screwing around with charging customers. The marginal production cost of software is zero. That’s what the price should be.
Here’s a look at the other guys:
- Meebo – They don’t have a optimized application, however, Meebo’s web application works. Unfortunately chatting on it is like using the site through a key hole. You have to constantly zoom in and out to pick your contacts or chat in a specific window. It also crashed my browser from time to time.
- FlickIM – If you just want to get on AIM, I strongly suggest FlickIM. It’s a no frills chat app that lets you get online and easily start chatting. It also maintains your user session even if you exit the browser. The only drawback is that they use a drop down menu to select a chat contacts instead of an easy to scan list that takes advantage of the iPhone’s scrolling.
- eBuddy – They have the fanciest iPhone chat application with a lot of the full application functions. On eBuddy you can chat with your contacts, send smilies, change and change your text color. Unfortunately it only connects to MSN, Yahoo, and AIM.