There originally were plans for an instant messenger, however there's always been a problem with PHP based instant messengers where they can only handle a small number of concurrent users. To have an efficient instant messenger it would require using Push Engine and Comet Server technology which could only be installed on a dedicated server and would be a tad expensive to develop and have installed.
Custom work by the author was $15 per hour for a long time but was increased to $20 per hour, which is still real cheap..
Yes, it's true that trying to get custom work done became difficult and slow. This is one of the reasons the author decided to make the Etano script open source, it just became too much for one person to try and handle all the support, custom jobs, plus future development. By being an open source project the support relies more on the community members and provides an opportunity for 3rd party developers to become involved and offer extra services and mods.
The bottom line is, the Etano core is solid with very few bugs or issues and can be customized and used for a variety of community based sites, including dating or social networking.
This could easily become the best script in it's class once more 3rd party developers become involved and provide more mods and templates, etc.