Chat Center Goes Freemium As It Passes One Million Downloads

Chat Center, a universal chat application, is taking a page from the social media playbook and now selling premium names on its service. This allows users to create names like “taxi,” “iPhone,” and “folgerscrystalsdontcausecancer…” for a price. The company has collected over 50 million trademarked words and has added them to a list of premium names that users must rent to use. Premium names cost $19.99 a year.

If you’ll recall, Chat Center is a one-stop-shop for chatting. By giving you a single handle – I’m johnbiggs, for example – that works on mobile, desktop, and anywhere else you can get a web connection, you can simply pass out your name as a central spot for chatting. The company is still young so good names are available and, in my experience, it’s worked well as an alternative form of contact.

“Chat is free, but it’s fragmented into silos. A person in silo A could not chat with a person in Silo B,” said founder Keith Teare. “For the first time, Mobile chat can be universal using mobile numbers and chat names and free. There is no need to know which app a person has installed.”

The service also now supports cellphone messaging which allows you to initiate a chat with your Chat Center account via an SMS. It works by reading your contacts and initiating chats via SMS and then moving them to the browser. Because it uses a basic web connection, there is no app to download or overhead on the chatter’s part. All chats will appear in the app or even in an emailed notification that pops up in your inbox.

Teare wants to replace the WhatsApps and Meebos of the world and bring us all into a glorious chat future. And it seems to be working. He reports over one million names registered since launch, an impressive uptake of a fairly quiet company. While it’s no “YO,” yet, the app seems to be gathering an underground following that could eclipse the big guys.