This summer, Nielsen Net Ratings released a study of the fastest-growing instant-messaging clients from August 2006 to June 2007. The big winner was Meebo--the Web-based cross-platform chat app that lets AIM, Yahoo, Google Talk, MSN, and Meebo's own users talk amongst themselves anywhere they've got a Web browser and an Internet connection.
The second-fastest growing chat client was more of a surprise. IMVU--which gained 154 percent more users over the year studied--is a 3D chat client that allows you to create your own avatar (covered previously) and interact with other users in a proprietary "metaverse."
IMVU combines the virtual reality of more robust universes like Second Life with the social-networking aspect of popular sites like MySpace and Facebook. Users get their own Web pages with photo galleries, buddy lists, blogs, profiles, and message boards that they can customize all day long. You can use the Web site to find people you might be interested in, and then chat with them live using the IMVU Messenger 3D application.
To see how the service works in action, take a screenshot tour of the 3D chat client IMVU.