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Meebo and IMVU: IM Clients

I'm not sure how new this is (the history of the Wikipedia article suggests it's pretty new), but Clickable Culture points to a beta release of IMVU, a 3D instant-messaging client. At first glance, I'm not sure whether this is a useful new tool, an unnecessary addition to IM or just a very limited version of immersive worlds like Second Life and There - what do you think?

imvu

Wikipedia: IMVU is a graphical instant messaging client that features animated interactive 3D avatars…Registered members receive their own homepage, the code of which is built in similar fashion to typical Myspace homepages. According to Tony Walsh of Clickable Culture, the software for the IMVU standalone client, seems to operate as a layer on top of existing IM applications, such as MSN, and uses small browser windows for much of its interface. IMVU also has a credits-currency system which is partially based upon physical, real-world money; such serves as the basis for the economy which financially drives the IMVU project, which is currently in beta. First-time users are given 1000 credits (play-money) to buy additional content. More credits can be purchased for real-world money.

Anyone using this have an opinion? I'm not sure whether I really want to add this to my growing lineup of IM clients (Meebo is the latest find). The idea of an economy within an IM client is very intriguing. Throw in some revenue-sharing and user-generated content and you might be on to something. One of the annoyances of using someone else’s PC is that you often don’t have access to all the software that you have become accustomed, if not reliant on. This is even worse on machines in net cafes or work PCs that are restricted.

I was impressed by Meebo because I could log into meebo, and access all the instant messenger services. It’s a cool little site that bulges with AJAX. You get a pretty reasonable IM client all within your web browser, without all the Flash and Java applet complications. It just works!

You can just specify the login details for the IM network(s) of choice and it logs in for you. If you wish, you can create a Meebo account, which saves all the IM details, and so you can login to your usual accounts with a single username. You can’t do anything other that basic chatting, like web cams, file transfers, etc. But I don't do those things anyway.