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A Web 2.0 Meme For IM

The Web 2.0 world has software-as-a-service, application programming interfaces (APIs), Webmail and content-sharing to help forge our online experiences.

So why is Instant Messaging still a client marooned on computers and devices? Sure, there are Web-based versions of your favorite IM software, but nothing like what startup company meebo offers.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based meebo recently extended its instant messaging communications platform with widgets that help Web sites add IM to any Web page.

The code also helps sites know who's visiting.

Company executives told internetnews.com the meebo me widget easily integrates the meebo instant messaging platform into the hottest places on the Web these days: social networking sites, blogs and commerce sites, to name a few.

As for why more people aren't demanding Web—based IM, the company thinks users just haven't been trained to think of IM that way.

"It's the same with e-mail," said Seth Sternberg, CEO and co-founder of meebo.

"The vast majority of people who use e-mail now do so with a Web-based interface. So I think it's only a matter of time" before they get used to Web-based IM."

Sternberg said as everything moves to the Web -- commerce, productivity tools and, of course, community -- it's all done with a browser.

"Meebo is doing the same for IM."

If you want to put it on your Web page, you just go get the embedded code, grab yourself a widget and then spit out the code on your site.

Given the runaway popularity of MySpace.com, the company thinks it may have a winning idea for the popular social networking site.

As for security concerns, such as whether younger MySpace.com users may be subjected to inappropriate contact from potential predators, Sternberg says the meebo interface only shows the person's handle, and no other personal information.

Sternberg and other meebo executives aren't expecting a cascade of users to defect from their AOL, MSN or Yahoo IM clients -- or even for Google Talk users to stampede over to a meebo way of life online.

But they think that as more people try it out, they'll be slapping it on their sites, especially bloggers and e-commerce sites that are looking for improved ways to hold conversations with their readers and/or customers.

These guys claim they got there first on offering this kind of "portable" IM service. The company said it counts more than 660,000 daily logins and sends 43 million messages daily among its user base.

Another feature the company thinks will intrigue users is a chat log that helps users separate home-based IM lots from work-related ones.

So if somebody happened to IM you a phone number, you're able to access it if you're not back on the same computer you used.