Exclusive Peek At Meebo's Upcoming Community Chat

Instant messaging service Meebo has given us a demo of its upcoming “Community IM” platform, which allows websites to seamlessly integrate a browser-based chat window very similar to Facebook Chat.

Meebo announced the upcoming community chat feature last July, with initial partners including DanceJam, myYearbook, AddictingGames, Sugar Publishing and Tagged. Flixster will be the first partner to launch the service, with an expected release in mid-October, with more services launching in the coming months.

The video below shows Meebo’s Community IM integrated into Flickr, which isn’t actually one of Meebo’s current partners (though an alliance may form in the future). The project was constructed as a proof-of-concept during last week’s Yahoo Hack Day, and was awarded second place in the event’s Flickr competition.

The video confirms what we suspected from the initial screenshots: this is basically a Facebook Chat clone, with the ability to communicate with external networks like AIM and MSN thrown in for good measure. This isn’t a bad thing, as most social networks have been scrambling to add a Chat feature but don’t have the resources to do so. Integrated chat is reported to increase user retention, which helps drive ad revenue.

Unfortunately, one of the most exciting features shown in the video – the ability to drag an image directly into a chat window – isn’t part of the default Community IM platform (it was a custom addition Meebo added within a few hours for the Hack Day competition). Meebo explains that it shows just how easily they can customize the platform for their partners, and says that it may well include the rich-media dragging as part of an upcoming release.

Meebo Community IM on Flickr from Meebo on Vimeo.