Here’s your blogger live reporting from Web 2.0 Expo, New York City – ready to keep you up to date about the latest start-ups and tech news. It’s gonna be an interesting few days, with big shots like Adriana Huffington, Tim O’Reilly, Jay Adelson, and Clay Shirky sharing their views on the next web.
After spending a few hours in the awfully cold and boring Javits center, I’ve already met some interesting start-ups. Like Berlin-based 3D chat service Smeet. Founder Sebastian Funke pitched the service to me this morning. At first I was skeptical, I’ve seen so many 3D, avatar-crazy, Flash 9-based chatting services that they doesn’t manage to tickle my fancy anymore. Yet when Funke mentioned that Smeet is completely web-based and embeddable at different sites, I realized this one could actually be interesting.
Call me on my mobile
Users on Smeet can create their own multi mesh avatar (meaning your character is wearing a shirt AND jacket, they’re the only browser-based service offering that) and join a room for a good discussion or a useless chat with other users. They’re plenty of them, although being able to speak German is quite essential (Smeet has 200,000 users in its home country). Next to text-based chatting, users can also give a ring to their mobile phone – so that they can talk with users who are standing close to them in the virtual room.
There’s where the business model comes in, as the German service makes some money out of the calls users make. Another source of income is the virtual goods shop. Habbo Hotel proved this can be a solid way of making money.
Embed a room in your site
The development team of Smeet is now working on embeddable rooms, which Funke hopes to release next week in alpha mode. This could be really exciting, as you can drag your avatar to every Smeet-supported site and start a riot. You could even watch a YouTube movie together (see screenshot).
Funke presented an impressive list part of partners that will include rooms on their site. It consisted of major media companies like RTL, EMI, Universal, and Big Brother. He told me Smeet is looking for similar partners outside Germany, namely in the States and the larger European countries.
So in the end, just another chatting service turns out to be a company with a good userbase and healthy ambitions that will probably become reality one day.