Services like Skype, Google Hangouts, and other video services have made our world as small as possible, allowing people to have face-to-face conversations from basically anywhere on the globe. These services serve their purpose well enough, but Norwegian startup Appear.in thinks that the experience can be made even more simple and offers a service that allows users to conduct video chats with nothing but a supported browser.
The most notable aspect of this video-chat platform is its simplicity. Assuming that the user browses through Chrome, Firefox, or Opera, they can create a chatroom that allows anyone (up to 8 people) with a generated URL to join. As long as the browser is up-to-date (or close to it), users should be able to chat, as the platform requires no special installation or sign-in.
Svein Willassen, who heads the startup, tells me that the inspiration for the service came when he and other co-founders were at Telenor Digital. They had previously experienced constant frustration with organizing video conferences, as that process typically required downloading a particular program, registering, and sharing contact information. During that time, a couple of students interning at Telenor Digital managed to develop a platform that provides conference rooms mirrored in a URL. They quickly realized that they had a hit idea and, soon after, the company was born.
The service is entirely free and Willassen says that they are currently developing a monetization strategy. He says that they are considering a freemium model, but nothing has been decided at this point.
Not every startup wishes to reveal usage statistics, but Willassen would tell me that they have experienced considerable growth in adoption of the platform since it launched back in August 2013. The startup does not reveal their external funding, either, but would say that they are funded by Telenor Digital AS, which is a subsidiary of Telenor, a telecom operator which operates in 14 countries.