Despite supposedly employing the brightest people on earth and having the riches of Croesus, Google continually fail to extend its business model successfully beyond search advertising. This must be infuriating when it sees tech rival Microsoft being so successful in so many areas.
Google’s latest attempt to break out is the virtual world, Lively, which was launched in July. Browser based, it is really just a Second Life lite. And, apeing Second Life, there is nothing to do, so like Second Life it is deserted. It is a pity because Google have the in house expertise and technology to do this right and make a serious impact on the virtual world market. Instead it has concentrated on the social networking aspect, an area that is more than well served by entrenched competition. This at the detriment of the gaming side. Just like Second Life. Perhaps if it had been looking at Maple Story, Runescape, Habbo, Club Penguin, Guild Wars etc it would have had a better idea what people want.
Maybe Google could learn in this area from Rupert Murdoch, who has no campus full of geeks. With a low cost, low risk strategy he is leveraging his existing brand and customer base with a product that people actually want, TheLondonPaper casual gaming portal. This can be used as a template and reskinned as a bolt on cash cow for any of his myriad global empire of media. You can see that he is a businessman.
We have another Second Life alike about to burst onto the scene with Sony Home. This time it has a huge potential to integrate gaming with social networking well. If it succeeds this could be a seminal product that changes the gaming landscape. We will see. Certainly it will be an extreme disappointment if this turns out to be another Lively.
Back to Google and another recent launch of its, Knol. This user friendly knowledge repository is a competitor for Wikipedia, and Google are relying upon user generated content to get it up to critical mass This has the potential to be another Lively, but it could be what finally gives Google a toehole in a business outside search.