One of the buzzing sites on the Web right now is Chatroulette, which simply hooks two random strangers up to each other via Webcam chat.
It’s weird. “My longest exchange was with a guy who seemed to be wearing one of those protective cones you put on a dog after surgery,” Sam Anderson writes for New York magazine. “‘LICK YOU ELBOW’, he typed. ‘Why?’ I asked. He disconnected.”
The site has attracted the attention of numerous voyeurs, Internet nerds, journalists, and even New York venture capitalist Fred Wilson, who wonders, “How did it take 15 years for the Internet to deliver this experience?”
But is the site already fading? Or just getting started?
Web metrics company Hitwise says Chatroulette.com’s weekly market share of U.S. Web visits peaked the week of Jan. 30, and was down last week. At around 0.0003% of U.S. Web visits, it’s around the same Web traffic level as Webcam site Guba.com, GLBT site Glee.com, or social networking site Foursquare.com, according to a Hitwise rep. (Though Foursquare, one of Fred Wilson’s investments, gets most of its traffic from iPhone apps and other mobile devices, which Hitwise doesn’t measure.)
But more recent Google search trends data suggests Chatroulette interest is on the rise again. So maybe the service and its mystery owners have a mainstream hit ahead of themselves yet.
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