eBuddy is a strange mix of a typical Web company. While the lowercase "e" in front of the name might suggest it's a survivor of the early 1990s dot-com boom, it actually started out in 2003 and resides not in the Silicon Valley, but Amsterdam. It's also one of the few companies I've seen that has put almost its entire press kit on Flickr. eBuddy specializes in Web-based IM, which might sound familiar if you've ever used Meebo or the Web version of your favorite chat client. eBuddy works with three of the major clients, including AIM, MSN, and Yahoo. The latest release, which came earlier this month, runs all three at once.
Besides running on your browser, in the last two months eBuddy has been moving into the mobile space. It has a handy Java-based client that will run in nearly every phone, along with a version you can point to with your mobile browser. Just a few days ago this mobile version was optimized for the iPhone in order to get it to work with the Safari browser.
I spent a few minutes with it this morning, and came away impressed. iPhone users get a scrollable buddy list and tabbed chat windows. The buddy text is easy to read, and if you need to come in closer you can simply pinch. Instead of relying on a scroll bar to browse through your contacts, you just hold two fingers to drag it up or down. This worked some of the time, but more often it would simply scroll the entire page instead. You can also use this two-fingered scroll to read the contents of an IM conversation.
The chat interface itself is really simple, including the input box, which gives you a rather large selection of emoticons in case you feel like skipping the typing. If you need to jump back to the buddy list, you can do it from any window, which is helpful. All in all, it's a very simple solution for IMing on the go, and one of the better ones I've seen thus far.
Related: iPhone IM arms race ramping up; Trillian coming soon