37signals Launches Campfire

It took me a while to realize it, but the essential business plan of 37signals is taking modern technology tools and specializing them for business. They do this by 1) stripping generalized options and leaving only the core functionality; 2) creating a good UI that’s obvious (low training and support) and fun to use (easy flow-state); 3) pitching the user benefits instead of the features; 4) having a free trial for every product so you can see how it works directly; 5) having reasonable pricing plans that provide clear value and are dirt cheap for most businesses; 6) improving on the basic tech idea with business people in mind. So, you get:
* Basecamp: Blogs for project management.
* Backpack: Personal or small group wiki.
* Campfire: Secure and archived instant messaging.
Along the way, they also created two completely free products, Writeboard (shared document editing) and Ta-da List (shareable to-do lists). And coming up soon is Sunrise, a CRM for small business, which I expect to be a mini-Salesforce.com.
They have a blog, full of attitude; they publish their ideas; and they release open-source software at the core of their apps. No VC money – all funded through cash-flow. It’s a good model, and they’re firing on all cylinders.