Tonight meebo is launching Meebo Rooms, a rich media chat room product that users can put on their blogs and websites. They can be private or public chat rooms, and can feature video content from sources such as youtube and NBC. Earlier today I spoke to Seth Sternberg, CEO and co-founder of meebo, about the new product.
Meebo's core product is a browser-based IM platform, allowing people to use multiple IM accounts on the one webpage. Meebo has 2 million registered users and gets about 1 million sessions and 100 million messages per day. According to the press release, meebo rooms "are places where people can chat and view media live with IM buddies, both inside meebo.com and across the Web on their own pages." Meebo has partnered with a number of content providers - including blip.tv, Capitol Music Group, CNET Networks, NBC Universal, and others. They are launching with pre-assembled meebo rooms from the 14 initial partners, with more to come. Techcrunch has more info on the features, but for the remainder of this post let's analyze what the product means...
Meebo Rooms is reminiscent of Netvibes Universe, which recently partnered with leading content providers (such as CBS) to create 'branded' universes. The comparison to Netvibes is apt, because Seth described meebo rooms to me as "like a very very rich widget". Just as Netvibes and Pageflakes are in one sense a homepage for widgets, including rich media like video, meebo is also attempting to be a distribution hub for rich media. Meebo is using its core strength, providing real-time chat, as the foundation for a multimedia social networking service. Video content is the main feature being touted, but also important is the social angle - because the combo of chat and media gives people a compelling context to gather together, using meebo's platform. Perhaps this is what TV will be like in the future ;-)
Note that advertising will eventually be part of the mix, as meebo also announced tonight it will test advertising on the meebo.com site.
All in all, a good move by meebo - quintessential web 2.0 in a lot of ways. However I'm not sure I'll be rushing to use it myself, as I have enough trouble focusing on my work with multiple text-based IMs competing for my attention ;-) Let alone adding video to the mix... But what do you think? Would you use meebo rooms?
Example of NBC meebo room - click for larger image