I always thought the tours in VPchat had potentially interesting business applications, but the general nature of the chat community really prevents it from entering that realm. VPchat has been doing place-based chat for (holy crap!) 11 years. Finally, place-based chat has come of age. The products out there are small, and new, but they all have great potential. Place-based communication can be a great adjunct to IM for business communications. There are several options out there now. No avatars, no chat room backgrounds, just text chat anywhere you go.
I didn't find many people chatting, for the most part. These products definitely need a little critical mass to get them going.
They all seem to be working on directories - right now, there's really no good way to find people.
Peekko is an IRC client. It adds a toolbar at the top of your browser to show you how many people are chatting. It creates a text chat window that sits across the bottom of your browser for that page.
Nothing to install or download
Supports FF, IE, Safari, and Flock, they're Yworking on Opera
“Chat about any content on the web – just add gabbly.com/ in front of any url”
By default, Gabbly floats an actual chat window in the upper right corner of your browser. You can adjust this to be a sidebar or a bottom frame. It's pretty noisy, but you can turn off the audio with one click.
Nothing to install, just drag a bookmark to your toolbar.
The chat pane appears in a sidebar to the right. They also offer a “poplet” that opens the chat in a small window. You can also IM or leave a message for someone.
Firefox extension, IE favorites link,
Compatible with Jabber
This is small-time. Coded by Adam. Funded by Adam. I got an application error when I tried to register. Still, it's a decent interface, and they seem to be getting some good attention. Ya never know :)