When people gather, conversations are bound to happen. And while people may be gathering and chatting in Web-based IM interfaces like GTalk, Facebook Chat, and MySpace Chat, that user base is relatively insignificant compared to the untold millions of others who live and breathe in online communities outside those walled gardens.
Meebo, the leading "IM in the browser" play, realizes this. And with Community IM, they're hoping to capitalize on it, by incorporating XMPP/Jabber IM into any Web-based community. If early numbers are any indication, they're going to be wildly successful.
Meebo Community IM was announced in July of this year with a select group of partners that included PopSugar, Tagged, Pixo, Addicting Games, The Insider (CBS), DanceJam, Flixter, MyYearbook and SparkArt. Today, Meebo announced that they've added at least 11 more partners to that network, which is still under development.
So how many users could that long-tail of communities garner for Meebo? Based on comScore Media Metrix, Meebo estimates the potential size of the partner network to have an unduplicated global reach of 72.9 million with more than 26 million of those users in the US.
Slated to launch this fall, the movie site Flixster will be the first out of the gates on the platform.
And that's just the beginning. With the types of communities Meebo is targeting, there's a great deal more room to grow once the service is launched to the public:
"If you have an online community with over 20K daily users, Meebo can add IM to your website. Users will be able to chat with other community members as well as buddies outside your network, directly from your site."
Perhaps even more impressive is Meebo's foresight to build its solution on an open foundation. Running on a XMPP/Jabber backbone, Meebo Community IM will be able to connect directly with other popular IM networks. AIM, MSN, Google Talk, and Yahoo! will all be available options. What's more, XMPP will enable them to federate relationships across the various partners, so that a user from one community will be able to communicate with users on another community.
Needless to say, the combination of the extensible technology and the sheer volume of online communities that could choose to adopt this solution translate into a great deal of potential for Meebo.
It's no wonder Meebo's valuation sits north of $200 million.
All in all, Meebo is projecting huge numbers, already. And the estimates of the potential could get astronomical. But, it's also evident that a yet-to-be-launched solution can be met with any amount of skepticism. So where does that put us?
Rest assured, this isn't the first time Meebo has been saddled with "it can't be done." After more than three years of proving their detractors wrong, we remain convinced that Meebo is going to succeed.