Wablet beefs up instant messaging

The idea behind Wablet, an instant messaging and social networking service, is pretty interesting. At its surface, Wablet is a Web-based IM client that supports MSN, AIM, and ICQ now with support for Jabber and Google Talk to follow. Wablet works with Firefox and Internet Explorer browsers on the PC and Safari and Firefox browsers on the Mac. Actually, none of it is available to the public right now, and I haven't tested it. Wablet is currently in a private alpha phase. A public version should be ready over the next few months, according to Wablet CEO David Foote.

Paste a few lines of Wablet-provided code into a page on your Web site, MySpace, Friendster, or other networking site, and people can see if you're online and IM you directly from that page. At its simplest, Wablet lets you set up one access point for people to communicate with you while you're on vacation. At its best, it lets a small business owner--say a freelance artist--take orders instantly and safely on the Interent.

I say safely because Wablet lets you set up a number of distinct identities. Your MySpace friends can ogle your bikini-clad Surfergrrl icon, while your LinkedIn colleagues respectfully ping your buttoned-down business persona. Never the two identities will meet unless you want them to. You control what information to reveal about each persona.

You also control which identities appear online and when. During business hours, for example, you can choose to be available for your Web site customers but not your MySpace friends. Wablet is developing ways to qualify Wablet members with thumbs up/thumbs down ratings and badge-type affiliations with other networking sites.

How many of us are using the same strangely named AIM account for business and personal communication? We'd rather not but it's the most efficient solution right now. Wablet could change that.

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