HipChat is a new private chat service for companies and teams
There was a time when having a chat client on your computer at work was considered a no-no. These days, if you're not available via some sort of online chat or instant messaging, you're just not moving at the speed of business.
Many companies have begun using open instant messaging services for their internal discussions, but there are a couple of downsides to this approach. The first is a lack of control, and a potential lack of security. The second is a lack of collaboration tools; it's difficult to share files between multiple people in an instant messaging chat.
HipChat is a new start-up that aims to fix the problem of secure, controlled corporate chat. Based on Adobe AIR which provides cross-platform functionality, HipChat is a fully functional chat client that as GigaOM points out, bears a resemblance to 37Signals' Campfire product. To be fair, the basic layout of an IRC-like chat client has been the same for 15 years, so the similar look is not that much of a surprise.
Where HipChat has a definite advantage is in the fact that it is a desktop client (even if it does unfortunately rely on AIR), not a web client. While there are 3rd-party Campfire clients and even ways to run Campfire in a dedicated single-purpose browser, HipChat is simply a desktop chat client.
HipChat has plans available from $9/month for up to 12 users, to $99/month for up to 100 users, and offers a 30 day free trial.