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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Virtuality: Google Planning to Launch "My World"

Ars Technica (Art of Technology blog) reports that Google is prepping it's own entry into the field of Virtual Worlds, potentially named "My World". Students at ASU (a school Google has a strong working relationship with in the past) this weekend received questionnaires that "hinted strongly" at the possibility that they would be among the first to test such an app later this year.

(Screengrab of the questionnaire courtesy of the MacRumors forum).

A logical step for Google, given that they've already made a foray into Virtuality with Google Earth.

And a significant move, not because it's just another virtual world for people to choose from, but because it is a mainstream tech giant adopting what some decry as little more than a passing fad, and it's yet further evidence that a 3D internet is the next logical progression of our digital lives.

A few snippets from the article:

"The notion that Google might test the new service with ASU students isn't very outlandish, then, so the question is more a matter of what the service will be rather than if it will come to fruition."

"To us, it seems that a virtual world is natural progression of Google Earth and its 3D representations of... well, the Earth. Users could create avatars, like those in Second Life. The "street view" feature of Google Maps could be incorporated, as well as Google SketchUp, with avatars being able to walk around on actual streets and enter real buildings to check out what's inside and socialize with other avatars. But the purpose wouldn't be to rival Second Life and all of its fantasy, sex, and moneymaking schemes."

"Whatever "My World" ends up being, we think that Google will go much further than just competing with Second Life—if the company makes it functionally useful and ties it in with services that people already use, it may have a chance of succeeding at getting average Internet users to participate."


salina said...

I would be surprised if Google branched into social networking. In my experience with various legs of the brand, those that really excelled were tied more tightly to Google's established strengths--namely, searching and organizing. Other products have worked just as well as the competition (gmail) but aren't packed with Google genius.

Social networking would be a few steps removed from Google's heart, so I would advance with caution.

avin said...

I think the genius of Google is something we always talk about around here- just DOING instead of over thinking. They're always putting things out in BETA and aren't afraid to take chances.

See where you're coming from, but my point here is that they see the value in going virtual (beyond Google Earth) and are making serious steps towards it. Will it be perfect? Probably not. Will it be successful? Don't know. But (barring some unseen hiccup) they're doing it and helping to advance the Virtuality of the masses.

So they may be extending beyond their typical strengths, but that in itself is worthy of praise in my opinion, and I'm pulling for it to be something big.