Google Wanders Into Virtual World Territory; Launches Lively
Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) has launched a virtual world that competes directly with Linden Labs’ Second Life. The new Google product is called Lively and it will allow users to create rooms that their avatars live in. The actions of the avatars can be streamed in the form of photos and video too. And lastly, the avatars can invite other friends to their room and help decorate or chat.
Lively currently has a Facebook application and Google is working on making a Lively application compatible with MySpace.
“We know people already spend a lot of time online socializing, so we just want to try to make it more enjoyable,” stated Niniane Wang, an engineering manager at Google engineering manager who worked on Lively over the last year. Google isn’t planning on integrating advertising in Lively.
Photos of Lively can be embedded on websites and blogs too. Anyone that has the Lively plugin can enter the virtual world directly from websites or blogs. Currently there are about 10 avatars to choose from.
Google worked with students at Arizona State University to get feedback for the virtual world before releasing it to the public. YouTube videos work in the virtual TV rooms of the avatar’s rooms. Below is a video clip of Lively in action.