Instant messaging service Meebo announced a new product tonight called community Instant Messaging that will effectively provide “instant messaging in a box” to any site with a community. It will be a federated system, which means users can access friends on other meebo powered social networks, too. DanceJam, Flixster, myYearbook, Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids and Family Group’s AddictingGames, Piczo, SparkArt, Sugar Publishing and Tagged were also announced as launch partners.
The product interface looks surprisingly similar to Facebook Chat, which launched earlier this year. Well, perhaps it isn’t so surprising, since other social networks are scrambling to counter Facebook Chat, but don’t have the resources to build out their own platform quickly. Even MySpace lacks a web chat product, although they are building one for launch later this year.
Like Facebook Chat, users can “pop out” the chat session and keep it live on their desktop even after they leave the site. Community partners can send messages into user chat streams (things like new friend requests and news stream items). That gives a more persistent connection to the user for the partner, another value point to the product.
The business model: Meebo will offer this free and place ads. Revenues are split 50/50 with the partner. For now Meebo is only working with a few partners, but over time they say they will open up the API for everyone and provide the service as a utility on demand.