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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Will Google Lively be the New Home of Virtual Business?

Posted by @ 6:11 pm
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Have you jumped on board the virtual world juggernaut?

Leveraging the momentum created by Second Life and alike, Google have taken the wraps off Lively – their virtual world incarnation.

Even with an early disclaimer suggesting the project is only 20% complete…eager onlookers have flocked in droves to the newest entrant in the virtual world space.

Google Lively was initially touted as a three-dimensional chat world. Seems like a fairly boring concept right? Well YES, unless you like seeing an avatar version of yourself talking with other random avatars from around the world.

BUT…

the real value of Lively could lie in what’s to come. Now, some of you would have heard the negative reviews it’s already received. Here’s some of the negative feedback via summize:

- Rhea: Google Lively requires Windows Vista or XP = FAIL
- emolife: i consider myself rather openminded and interested in all things web, but i fail to see the point of google‘s new http://www.lively.com.
- hunterblock: Google lively?? Hmmmmmmmn. Fail. Done.

But bare in mind it’s only 20% there…

anyone who has used Second Life will understand the commercial possibilities of virtual worlds – which is where Lively will be relevant for business owners.

Lively has one key benefit over Second Life – its web based. Okay make that 2 – it can leverage the Google’s user base also. These two advantages could be the primers for helping Lively reach some level of critical mass (down the track of course).

Don’t think virtual worlds are worth the investment, just look at some of the major brands in second life: American Apparel, Sony BMG, Toyota, Reuters.

A second life virtual developer reported charging between US$10,000 – $200,000 back in 2006 to build retail environments for some of these major brands. And the best part, if you have spare time, you can build your own shop/office for free – so its not limited to companies with big budgets.

While its early days in the Lively development journey; and honestly, it is still extremely slow to render and user engagements is still very limited – it’s definitely a “world” to watch. The challenge for Google is getting the platform stable quickly, to avoid initial user sentiment deterring repeat visits. A poor beta experience could be the undoing of Lively.

I would expect to see some e-commerce integration (Google Checkout) in the next 12 months, which will see Lively move from being just a world for chat, to a serious virtual world.

As regular user numbers balloon with more promotion and greater stability in the platform, it “could” be a place where businesses can look to expand their reach and tap into new markets.



Rene LeMerle Rene is the marketing manager of ineedhits.com - a global search engine marketing company. He also leads the marketing for Gooruze.com - a web 2.0 style community for online and digital marketers. Rene has been in the industry since 1997 with much of that time spent helping businesses embrace the best of the internet and digital world.

View Rene LeMerle's profile






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