Paltalk is extending the ability for its users to video chat with each other by rolling out a new feature for users to connect with one another. With the addition of a web service dubbed SuperIM, the long-time video chat company will allow its users to chat with up to 10 friends for free without having to download or install any software.
Unlike Skype and other video chat services, the SuperIM service works through the Paltalk Express web-based video chat service, giving users an easy way to connect with contacts or friends. All registered Paltalk users — all 4 million of them — can use SuperIM URLs that are assigned to them at http://www.superim.me/screenname, or they can set vanity URLs that will allow them to personalize their SuperIM address (e.g. I can be reached at ryanlawler.superim.me). Users can then give that URL out to others, who will be able to reach them through video chat whenever they’re logged into the service.
While the service is currently in beta, Paltalk CEO Jason Katz says he hopes to have a fully functional version of SuperIM URLs up and running by the end of April. Once fully ready, the service will have greater social features, integrating with AIM, MSN, Yahoo, Facebook, and GTalk through the Jabber protocol, enabling users to easily find and contact friends online. Another feature will allow friends that connect to a certain Paltalk user’s SuperIM URL to leave video and voice messages if that user is not online when they try to reach him.
Katz says the move to in-browser video chat was in the works before the recent popularity of Chatroulette — the video chat sensation that allows users to connect with random strangers. In fact, he says Paltalk had a similar video chat service called ‘instant dating’ seven years ago, which allowed users to randomly connect to other users based on some pre-determined criteria. But Paltalk found that service suffered from the same issues that currently face Chatroulette: a lack of women and too many men.
Paltalk, which was founded in 1998, has been hanging tough in the web video chat market, and has even been profitable for many years. The startup, which took some funding from Softbank back in 2004, bought the investor out last summer.
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