Seesmic Launches Swiss Army Knife for Social Networks

Seesmic, the social-networking startup founded by French entrepreneur Loic LeMeur, today launched a new version of its Seesmic Desktop application that allows users to log in to more accounts from the app’s single dashboard, and also allows them to customize their activity streams by adding plugins from an open marketplace. Plugins that support more than 40 other related social applications and services are available at launch, including Topsy, Klout, MySpace, Formspring, Google Reader (s goog) and Ning. There’s even a plugin for connecting to Zappos (s amzn), the popular shoe retailer, that lets you share news of your purchases with friends.

The idea behind expanding Seesmic’s repertoire “came from the understanding that our users desired support of many different social services, more than just Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn,” LeMeur writes in a blog post about the launch of the new app. “With the plugin architecture in SD2, you can easily add, remove and customize the platform to include only the services that matter to you.” Seesmic is also available for both Windows and Mac (s AAPL) users through Microsoft (s MSFT) Silverlight, and there are web-based and mobile versions of the app as well.

In addition to the support Seesmic Desktop already provided for Twitter, Facebook, Buzz, LinkedIn and Foursquare — along with common Twitter-based services such as and Twitpic — the new version includes support for plugins that offer a variety of specific features. The Foursquare Places plugin, for example, looks for Foursquare links in your activity stream and then displays information related to that place. Another provides an image thumbnail for any link that comes from Twitpic, Yfrog, Tweetphoto (now called Plixi) or any of the other popular image-sharing services. A third provides a translation of any item in your timeline using Microsoft Translator.

The marketplace will be open to any developer who wants to produce a plugin, LeMeur says, and Seesmic will work with them to implement whatever features they want. In addition to some of the services mentioned, the new desktop app will also soon incorporate a plugin for Chatter, the social media tool from (s crm), which Seesmic announced support for earlier this week. LeMeur says the company was working on support for multiple networks even before Twitter bought the Tweetie iPhone app earlier this year — and made it clear it was going to compete with players in its ecosystem — but that move reinforced the need to do so (luckily, Seesmic’s name doesn’t include the word Twitter, so it didn’t have to change it, as some have).

For some time now, Seesmic has been engaged in a battle with a number of other apps and services that provide a unified dashboard for a variety of social networks — including TweetDeck, HootSuite, Echofon and others. But the plugin marketplace and the extendability it offers could put Seesmic ahead of the pack, at least for now, since it allows users to customize their activity streams in interesting ways, and effectively customize the app as well. I have been a die-hard Tweetdeck user for some time, but these new features have me thinking about switching my allegiance. My big problem now will be getting a monitor big enough to display all the tiny windows.

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