There seems to be an ever increasing amount of similar products launched, but are there enough users to go around to give the companies behind the products any hope of ever actually generating any revenue? It seems to me that it could make solid sense for a few of these companies to actually join forces with each other so they can pool resources together and develop even more bells and whistles that the new age Internet community seem to adore and always want more.
Take, for example, the following two instant message (IM) platforms: Meebo and eBuddy. These are just two or many IM platforms that claim very similar features but both have their own dedicated user group. Both IM platforms have web versions that enables you to chat with your MSN, AOL and Yahoo buddies without having to install a program. However, Meebo does have Jabber and Google Talk while eBuddy allows you to chat with your friends using a mobile phone or PDA.
Now, I am not saying that eBuddy and Meebo do not offer interesting and valuable services and that their users are not happy and eager to continue utilizing their solutions. However, I am saying that there’s a new and very exciting IM platform that will soon be launching called Wablet.
Matt Marshall from SiliconBeat says, “Wablet is a new instant message client that builds in new identity features so you can better decide whether you want to talk with people visiting you.” He continues to state that, “You register at Wablet, and you get a little Web-based console that you can drag anywhere on your computer screen. That Wablet console, in turn, is intelligent. It keeps track of all the places on the Web where you have a sites or a profile (which you have also registered at Wablet). Wablet looks like a Yahoo or MSN IM box, but runs in a browser. It lets you message within all your existing IM accounts, but also lets you chat with people at other sites you own.” Here’s an image of what your console would show, showing the main person you are conversing with, and then a bunch of other people on the top bar waiting to talk with you.
This platform is still in a private alpha phase so I have not had the opportunity to personally test it out but they claims to supports MSN, AIM, and ICQ currently with Jabber and Google Talk support for to come. These features sound similar to eBuddy and Meebo but hold on it gets better. Narasu Rebbapragada of PCWorld.com wrote today that, “Wablet works with Firefox and Internet Explorer browsers on the PC and Safari and Firefox browsers on the Mac. A public version should be ready over the next few months, according to Wablet CEO David Foote.” Rebbapragada continues to say, “You [can] also control which identities appear online and when. During business hours, for example, you can choose to be available for your Web site customers but not your MySpace friends. Wablet is developing ways to qualify Wablet members with thumbs up/thumbs down ratings and badge-type affiliations with other networking sites.”
Wablet (based in the U.S. but has developers in the Philippines) certainly sounds exciting and holds the potential of becoming a major player in this place. Interesting enough, Wablet has had to only raise a seed round so far and has been operating secretly, whereas both Meebo from the U.S. and Ebuddy from Europe have have raised VC funding from top tier firms. Meebo having received money from Sequoia Capital in December, as reported by TechCrunch and eBuddy receiving money from an undisclosed, but top tier, VC firm.
With everything said, lets keep in mind that the proof is in the pudding and even though Wablet seems pretty darn exciting eBuddy, which formally launched on May 1, 2004, is already profitable thanks to advertising revenues, (in part from their relationship with Eurekster has around 30 million users and claims it is growing by as much as 100,000 users a day.