Chat finds a home in the browserFebruary 15, 2006
Google just added chat to Gmail and tonight, 37signals launched Campfire, a group chat tool designed especially for business. Both products are used directly in the browser and do not require any chat software to be installed. Not only does this make it simple to get started, it also means that no special network or firewall rules are needed.
I've used both tools and am convinced that chat is about to go mainstream in a whole new way. I've already used Gmail to chat with people who would never use a chat, but found this quick, easy, and useful. Both products make a big point about the ability to keep transcripts of your chats for later references. I love using both of them - they are very simple and well thought out.
Google Chat is free and designed for one-on-one conversations. Campfire is a minimum of $12 per month (30-day free trial) and is built for multiple chats featuring 3-40 people. Campfire also includes the ability to easily share documents. I think there's going to be a lot of teams using Campfire very soon. It's perfect for so-called third place workers who office anywhere and anytime, but still need to be connected to the team. Of course, I'm sure web and design shops will be the first adopters, just as they drove the adoption of Basecamp.
Following the 37signals design philosophy, watch for a cool new feature to be released for Campfire within two weeks.