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Google v. Second Life? No Contest

By - January 27, 2007

One of the big buzzy facts of Davos life this year was Second Life. Reuters was busy interviewing folks for the Second Life audience (yeah, OK, I did it), and nearly everyone at Davos who was NOT in the internet industry was busy talking it up as important (and many who were as well, but for different and deeper reasons).

Now, another buzzy fact of Davos life was Google. Eric Schmidt co-chaired the event this year (they select a few industry leaders to do so), and Larry and Sergey plyed the floors like regular folk (well, regular folk with a 767 and billions in net worth, but at least at this event, they were not the only ones).

This led someone to ask me – will Google, with Sketchup now firmly part of the empire, take a run at Second Life? And will it win?

Others are also asking this question (TechCrunch, Benchmark partner Michael Eisenberg). But I think it’s the wrong question. Second Life is all about play, and fantasy, and alternative realities. I’m going to guess that Google’s version is going to be all about reality, and mashing up AdWords, Google Earth, Sketchup, and the Yellow Pages/Google Local. The two will live quite nicely one next to the other, and most folks who use one will probably not see using the other as even vaguely competitive.


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6 thoughts on “Google v. Second Life? No Contest

  1. Tom Nocera says:

    What could make the concept even better for Google more appealing to wider audience – assuming you are correct in your (highly educated) guess – would be to allow users to zoom backwards in time to places where pivotal events have taken place, and be presented the choice to explore an alternate reality from that point in time and place…the chance to play forward into a virtual future. (Brings out the escapist in me.)

    By the way, thanks for opening up a little on Davos. Maybe on the long ride home you will share a bit more with those of us who are currently not on the elitist’s “A” list of trusted message disseminators.

    Money buys power, and power corrupts. Imposing “off the record” limitations is the surpression of information. Information is power, supression corrupts. The role of a free press is to shine a little light on what those in power would prefer to keep in the shadows. Come on, John, shine your light.

  2. Dr. Pete says:

    What’s honestly more intriguing to me about Second Life is the instances where it crosses into reality. I see more and more e-learning, virtual conferences, meetups, etc. happening in Second Life, and some of them are pretty impressive (complete with conference organizers, T-shirts, banners, PowerPoint slides, and virtual Teamsters). For as long as we’ve talked about the possibility, it seems like people are finally latching onto the idea of using virtual worlds as business tools, and I think we’ll see some big players get into that arena soon.

  3. Alex says:

    I wonder if someone tells me a thousand times that something’s important, will it actually be important? I don’t think so.

    I’m not a fan of TechCrunch since it seems to print a bunch stuff I could care less about, but hey, I guess anything for a buck, right? That’s usually what shills are.

    I do like Techdirt.com though. It had a January 24th article, “Second Life: Money Checks In, But It Doesn’t Check Out”, which pretty much says it all.

  4. tpiddy says:

    is 2007 the year of the metaverse? would myspace actually be positioned to launch a second life competitor?

    have you seen Sean Fanning’s (of Napster fame) rupture.com?

  5. Vegas Thornton says:

    The things about “second comain” is a little to fanatical for me. Like most of the non-valley ubbergeek during “Web 2.0″ i’d ask what are you calling the “second coming”?

  6. JG says:

    The two will live quite nicely one next to the other, and most folks who use one will probably not see using the other as even vaguely competitive.

    You mean like the same way Google Checkout doesn’t compete with Paypal? ;-)

    But seriously, can someone offer a compelling use case, here? What would I spend my time doing on “Google Second Earth”? World of Warcraft, that I understand. You have a goal/purpose when you log on. Second Life I also understand; it’s all about socializing and creating a cool alternate landscape. But Google Second Earth? Do you really think its primary function will be yellow pages + ads? So that if I am looking for some place local to purchase lawn furniture I can fly around virtually between my four choices.. and get hit in the face with adwords while doing so?

    I guess I just don’t get it, don’t see the vision yet.