Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Coming as a shock to almost no one, the 800-pound Googlerilla released their virtual world-ish product today, Lively.

Lots of good stuff here that pretty much all of us have predicted. It runs in a browser, rooms rather than a whole world to more easily balance resource requirements, integration with Google chat so you can talk to the rest of the world, and a wonderful aesthetic to appeal to Club Penguin graduates.

Lots of the web reports are positioning it as a direct Second Life competitor, with Michael Arrington of TechCrunch declaring "Well, this sucks for Second Life." Really? First, Lively has a host of unknowns. Will Google quickly get it running on OS X, or will Google's love-hate relationship with Apple slow things down? How flexible will the user-generated content become (and will you buy it with Google Checkout)? Sketchup and Google Earth integration? Also, what are you going to do in Lively? Club Penguin runs everywhere and isn't just a chat environment. Instead, there are tons of games and activities on top of the social bits.

Of course, if Lively is a typical Google product, we'll see a lot of iteration and improvement. More importantly, Google moving into virtual worlds adds interest and excitement to the space, which is great. It builds on recent technical milestones like Second Life to Open Sim teleportation, the regulatory opportunities opened up by Vermont's virtual corporation law, Whirled's flash-based approach, and Mitch Kapor's 3D interface experiments. Lively is step forward, potentially an important one if it is approachable enough and gives you something to do. But the idea that it is going to achieve Google web search levels of dominance is probably a little silly.


Hunter said...

Rather than bad for SL, i think it's very good for SL: http://elapsedtime.blogspot.com/2008/07/why-google-lively-is-good-for-second.html

Surprise, as a Googler and former SL'er, i can figure out a scenario where they both win :)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Lively is interesting from the perspective of Google trying to play in this space, but certainly at this point nothing groundbreaking. Basically looks like 1995 is calling and they want their 3D avatar chat back

Anonymous said...

I thought it dreadful for two reasons. 1) it crashed me hard and I can run SL and 2) the default avatar is anorexic with huge boobs and I really think that that is a horrible idea. Read more on my RL blog.

Gahum Riptide said...

It amuses me that the tech critics talk as if Lively is going to turn SL into an empty world of maybe a handful of avatars and a world of smoking, burning virtual ruins.

sirhc desantis said...

Well it did kill SL alright - also Lotus Notes, IE and a bunch of other stuff. It also dragged my system to its knees until i rebooted. Sorry Googlies - not doing it for me

Gahum Riptide said...

Sirhc: it did kill one thing, my browser. I've tried logging in twice on Firefox and the dang thing has lagged the HELL out of my computer (worse than SL has ever done), and basically necessitated a hard shut down of Firefox to get my computer back.

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