Lively is pretty much a browser based virtual world platform. Kind of instant messaging with 3-D environments and avatars thrown in. At the moment it looks pretty basic and it only works on PC with limited browser compatibility, but I think Lively could be the start of something very interesting.
First off, it’s browser based and once you’ve created an avatar and room, google gives you the embed code so you can plonk your virtual environment on any webpage or blog. Suddenly the previously walled garden of virtual worlds has gone social. True at the moment individual Lively rooms don’t feel linked together, but my bet is you’ll see that change over the coming months. I’d also wager that if the beta becomes a full release (and I reckon it will), then google will very rapidly embed video and text advertising in the environments.
On a more fanciful level, I can’t help but imagine what might happen if google links Lively up with Google maps/google earth. Suddenly the conenction between real and virtual worlds could become very interesting.