- WEB STARTUPS
- WEB JOBS
- ALL TOPICS
I’ve been suggesting for a long time that inch by inch, day by day, Facebook moves closer and closer to becoming AOL 2.0. I am not talking about the new AOL that’s a collection of blogs, I am talking about the 14.4 dial up, 3.5″ floppies, look at photos of Cindy Crawford and email “You’ve Got Mail” AOL.
It’s easy to see how hooked people are to Facebook when the service is down as it has been a couple of times the past month. It’s the same crack that had me and lots of my friends hooked to AOL back in the 90s and pushed my first bill over $600.
In February I took a long look at the components of Facebook and compared them to the old AOL. Facebook had a press conference today to discuss a variety of updates at the social networking service. Next Web has a recap of all of the changes. The Facebook Groups update was the most interesting to me. It was fun to watch how quickly everyone ran for a group and how many updates were posted on my Facebook page about x person joining y group. It was interesting to note that groups can have email addresses @facebook.com which is one of the items I noted back in February would be coming. I still believe we will see full email@example.com email addresses coming soon. Email was the core functionality of AOL so it’s easy to see why I think it will be coming to Facebook.
Email is really the only function left that keeps Facebook from being its own complete island. Almost all of the other services a normal Internet user uses on a regular basis are provided by Facebook. From photos to videos, groups, IM, chat, apps, games, what else is there where a person would need to go outside the walls of the Facebook?
While many compare Facebook and Google, I would actually suggest Facebook’s next battle will be with Apple.
I’ve been watching how my sister has been using Facebook as of late and it is EXACTLY the same way she used AOL.
Let’s start this journey by taking a ride back in time. Some of you are too young to remember the Internet of the early 90s. Back then one of the most popular ways to get “online” was to use AOL. This was the popular online service that came via disks you received in the mail. Prodigy and Compuserve were on their way out and this new service AOL was the darling of the time. I went to college in a small town in upstate New York which had no local number for AOL. I had to call to Albany to access AOL. And boy did I access AOL. One of my first months I received a phone bill for over $500 in long-distance charges (where was Vonage back then?!?) and that didn’t even include the AOL access fees. I still use the same username on AOL today that I originally registered way back then.
AOL was exciting – you could read news, send and receive email, play games, IM chat with friends, go into chat rooms based around topics, search for content, listen to music, send eCards, customize the home page to suit your preferences and a variety of other online tasks. In later versions of the AOL desktop, a Web browser was included and other “partners” were added to allow for additional content and, what I will call, applications.
It sure does seem that the more we try to move the Internet forward, the more things seem to copy the old. So with that said, allow me to introduce you to the next version of AOL… AOL 2.0… otherwise known as Facebook.
Amsterdam-based chat service eBuddy has announced a new alpha-version web messenger client today. The interface has been redesigned, a new way to set your profile images using your webcam, sound controls and major speed improvements.
Another new feature in the messenger client are themes. From the announcement, “With Themes you can change the look of the Messenger just the way you want it. In the mood for a pink background or rather prefer orange with funky dots? Change it with two simple clicks.”
You can try the new eBuddy web messenger client here. To login you either need an eBuddy ID or use any of the supported chat services (MSN, Yahoo IM, AIM, ICQ, Google Talk, Facebook, MySpace and Hyves).
I am wondering when eBuddy will integrate Twitter into their client applications. I can only imagine the strength of a client that brings together all of the chat networks, Twitter and email. Once eBuddy (and the valley version Meebo) add Twitter to their software, it should help to provide a lift to both Twitter’s usage and reach.
Amsterdam-based eBuddy and valley-based TokBox have announced a new partnership this morning. The new partnership will bring the video chat service TokBox offers to the users of online instant messaging service eBuddy. Financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed.
eBuddy CEO Jan-Joost Rueb noted that video chat was the most requested feature from their users. Rueb also shared that they have over 18 million monthly unique users.
The video chat works across several IM networks including AIM, MSN, Gchat, Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo Chat. As you can see below, eBuddy has added the video chat icon to the chat window. Users click the video chat icon and instantly begin sharing video with their chat buddies. No software is required to use the video chat feature.
AOL has announced the launch of a new flash-based instant messaging application today. AIM Express allows you to do everything you can in the normal AIM client inside of a Web browser. In my testing this morning, I found it to work very well. As you chat with more people, tabs show up on the top of the application so you can jump back and forth. Everything is contained inside of the one Flash application.
I wonder if they could port this to a desktop app using Adobe AIR as it would allow everything to be contained inside the app instead of opening windows for each current chat. The new AIM Express also allows for text messaging using SMS for friends that are offline.
AOL also announced the launch of an updated Windows Mobile client. The new client includes ads from AOL’s Platform-A division.
Amsterdam-based chat service eBuddy is announcing this morning that they have hit the 1 billion mobile messages sent using their service each month. In fact, this month I am told that it’s 1.1 billion mobile messages. They have also shared that the eBuddy mobile client has been downloaded over 5 million times and 2 million unique users have sent the above 1.1 billion mobile messages.
eBuddy CEO Jan-Joost Rueb tells me that the mobile Web client has been used by 600,000 iPhone users and by over a million Sony PSP users to-date.
eBuddy is also announcing the launch of updated software for both their J2ME and mobile Internet browser clients. The J2ME client has been updated with a new interface and support for eBuddy ID which allows for a user to connect to multiple networks using one eBuddy account.
It’s interesting to watch eBuddy and Meebo take different paths over the last year and yet both are successful with thier product roadmaps. Check out all of our eBuddy coverage including our interview with Rueb.
Editor’s note: eBuddy is a current sponsor of CenterNetworks.
Yesterday I met with Meebo CEO Seth Sternberg who took me through some new Meebo functionality coming this fall. The new service offering is called Meebo Community IM and it’s pretty sweet. Here’s the short description of Meebo Community IM: integrated 1-1 instant messaging for sites that have registered members. The Meebo Community IM works across sites so you can actually view your buddies on all of the partner sites.
The initial launch partners include companies like Flixster, myYearbook and Sugar Publishing. Game aggregator AddictingGames is also a launch partner. Seth tells me that they can "easily" launch sites with small amounts of traffic and are working to support much larger sites as well. Meebo’s SparkAds program will deliver ads inside of the chat and the revenue will be shared with the launch partners. To signup as a partner site, go to meebo.com/communityim.
When you visit a partner site, a small toolbar will appear at the bottom of the screen. This is the chat bar and will allow you to see your buddies that are online currently. If your buddies are offline, you can leave them a message and it will be delivered when they sign on. The most interesting part is that you can "pop-out" the toolbar and so you can chat and interact with your buddies on the partner sites even when you aren’t actually on the sites themselves. The toolbar looks very much like the Facebook IM toolbar. I’ve embedded some screenshots of how the functionality will work below.
In version 2 of the Meebo Community IM platform, you will be able to exchange your social graph across multiple partner sites. If you are on site A, you will be able to see and chat with your buddies on sites B and C. The friends lists come from the friends on each of the partner sites.
What makes the Meebo Community IM exciting is that any site that has members can now offer this new social layer with very little technical work and could heavily increase the usage of the site.
Seth left me by noting that they are looking for talented engineers. If you are interested, give Seth a ring.