Second Life Killer ? Microsoft Live Local Releases 3D models of US Cities

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Microsoft just announced a major improvement to their Live Local service (renaming it at the same time Live Search Maps): 3D building models in 15 US cities. These buildings will be photo-realistic and the site will allow the user to zoom in and fly over them. This screenshot shows the city of San Francisco. Amazing, isn’t it? According to PC World, “Microsoft will integrate ads into these 3D models in a way it considers organic, by displaying them on virtual billboards the users will encounter as they zip around the cities”. Microsoft hopes to deploy over 100 cities in the next year. CNET has a short video showing some of the highlights.

What it means: although this is a very early deployment of a new virtual 3D world, I believe this might eventually become a competitor to Second Life, one of the leading virtual world with a booming (and quite real) economy. I can easily imagine Microsoft leveraging the X-Box connection to make this a more interesting world. As for virtual billboard advertising, what I’ve seen in virtual San Francisco is not very impressive. I would actually try to leverage existing offline billboard inventory to make this a more seamless experience.

5 thoughts on “Second Life Killer ? Microsoft Live Local Releases 3D models of US Cities

  1. Je suis d’accord avec toi si on s’arrête à ce que Microsoft offre aujourd’hui. Mais si tu te projettes dans le futur, clairement Microsoft possède déjà tous les éléments en place pour sérieusement concurrencer Second Life en bâtissant un monde virtuel basé sur notre monde réel. Ils ont plusieurs « network effect » en place qui les avantages (la dominance de Internet Explorer, le réseau X-Box Live, l’expertise jeux vidéos, etc.).

    Ce commentaire dans le San Jose Mercury News (http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/local/15944619.htm) semble supporter ma théorie : “Michael Pegg, who publishes a blog called gmapsmania.blogspot.com that focuses on 2-D mashups made with Google Maps, said adding 3-D capabilities is likely to take current enthusiasm for 2-D mashups to a new level as developers find ways to better simulate real world experiences, such as visiting a doctor, attending a meeting at city hall or browsing in a book store. Think about the aging population, think about people with disabilities, think about gridlock,” Pegg mused. “With baby boomers getting older, a large population of people will be losing their mobility, and this could be the best thing for them.”

    Mais peu importe si c’est Microsoft ou autre, les revenus générés par Linden Labs dans Second Life vont de toute façon attirer d’autres entreprises dans ce créneau.

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