Google Closes Lively, Ends Virtual World, Social Networking Experiment

Within 24 hours of announcing Gmail Themes, Google has decided to shut down Lively, its short-lived Second-life'esque world that was launched back in July 2008.

The site quickly reached fame, rivalling Second life traffic, but its popularity waned over the last six months and unlike its bigger competitor, was seen more as an experimentation rather than a fully fledged product.

The website, which started life as a "Google 20 percent" pet project, will be discontinued at the end of December, and everyone who has worked on the project will then move on to other teams.

Users have also been encouraged at taking videos and screenshots of their "rooms", highlighting the problem of data lock within social networks and web 2.0 organisations in general.

The post on Lively's blog also underlined Google's commitment to prioritising resources and focus more on search, ads and apps for business, a clear sign that the time of messing around is nearly over.

Google has never been shy about dumping services that do not work; it zapped Google Answers and one can wonder whether Google Page Creator could be next.

Does that mean that Google will stop toying with the idea of social networking? Well, Google appears to be grooming Gmail to be the foundation of its social networking project.

Sure, Orkut, its other social networking website, is big but not in the regions that count. Orkut is great in Asia and Latin America whereas Europe and North America, where most of the advertising money, only accounts for 1.8 million users in October 2007.

Then Gmail might be the answer. With around 100 million users worldwide, it could provide the critical mass for Google to launch a social network website capable of taking on Facebook and Myspace.

Related Articles

Lively no more

Syber News

Welcome to the official Lively Help Group!

Google kills Lively

Meet Lively, Google's Just Released Virtual World

Google Releases Gmail Themes, More Social Networking Features Coming?