It continues on it’s trend of being very simple, clean, and easy to use. It has some definite advantages over group instant message chats like security, a permanent URL, you just need a browser, and file sharing and transcripts are reliable.
However, is it worth paying for? If group chat is a signficant part of your business, then yes, it probably is just for the security. In general though, we’re used to instant messaging and chatting being free. That’s a bit of a mental hurdle to jump to pay for something that’s been free, especially when it’s so simple. It’s great that it’s simple, but simple also makes me feel like there’s not much there that I’m paying for. I know that’s backwards, because why would I want to pay for something that was feature-bloated and complex, but I’m just talking about my initial mental reaction.
Another problem I had was that group chats require multiple people right? So I invited three co-workers who I chat with often via group IM or direct IM, and invited them to join my Campfire chat. With all three of them there was initial confusion on why we’d use this instead of IM. Sure, I can probably get through to them if I outline the features and why it’s better than IM, but they don’t really care about the features that much, they just want to chat and IM does that for them.
I could see some good specific uses like conducting interviews and other formal uses that would really benefit from transcripts and a permanent URL I’d want to access. Also being able to see images inline as they’re posted would make it easier to create an article or blog post from a chat/interview.
Bottom line, a nice simple piece of software which will probably get some serious group chatters to pay for it and enjoy it. Even though I understand the benefits over group IM chats, that model just isn’t broken enough for me to pay for a better experience, at least not yet. Perhaps as our company chatting becomes more formal and I want access to transcripts and better security, but right now are chats are fairly informal, I haven’t needed a transcript, and nothing that secure is being said.