We all know how great Twitter is for real-time breaking news and posting short-winded complaints about life. And, with its direct messages feature and “@” mentions, it can even be used as a fast way to keep in touch with friends. But now, with the help of a new app, tweeps can now use Twitter as an instant message client.
Dubbed Bonfire, this third-party app adds IM-style chat to Twitter.com. The service, downloadable as an extension for Firefox, Chrome or Safari browsers, lets you know which users are online (and also have Bonfire installed), and allows you to chat with Twitter users you follow just as you would chat with Facebook friends using Facebook Chat.
Twitter has had some dicey relationships with third-party app makers in the past, which makes it unclear whether Twitter will allow Bonfire chat to exist, long-term. Fortunately for Bonfire, which just launched today, they have a few things going in their favor. First, Twitter usually only has problems with developers who make apps that are direct Twitter clones, like UberTwitter and the like. Second, Bonfire only works via Twitter.com, which could possibly bring more users directly to the Twitter website, rather than accessing the service through another third-party Twitter client, and get them to spend more time on the site, which could me more ad dollars for Twitter.
At the time of this writing, Bonfire’s servers are overwhelmed with traffic, so it might be difficult to get the app to work right now (about 12:30pm ET). We were able to launch Bonfire earlier today, and it worked exactly as advertised. Once the extension is installed on your browser, and the app approved by you through Twitter, a small Bonfire icon appears in the right-bottom of the screen. Click “Sign in with Twitter,” and you’ll appear online to other Twitter/Bonfire users.
We can already see a few downsides to Twitter-fueled chat. For instance, the people we follow on Twitter aren’t all people we necessarily want to have work-interrupting chats with. (Sorry, but it’s true.) And, on top of that, Twitter is already a high-paced service that defines information overload. Do we really need to open the floodgates any further?
Those of you interested in Bonfire, can download the extension here.
Note: Bonfire appears to be overwhelmed for the time being with a flood of new users. We suggest you wait to install.