Google has launched a new service today called Lively, a virtual world. Users can create avatars, customize them and enter virtual rooms. The virtual rooms can be embedded on external web pages via iFrames. Given the large number of Google user base this can be a hit, but we will see in the near future how it goes.
The service works like a distributed social network, you download a browser based addon and then enter virtual rooms. Currently addon only supports windows XP/Vista with IE or firefox installed. Users can create their own rooms chat with friends and meet new friends, decorate their virtual rooms with furniture, customize the avatars with outfits etc.
To get started download the addon and select an avatar by signing in with your Google account. The avatar price is currently displaying free, so may be after some time they will add more avatars to select for a price. Browse existing rooms or create a new room. You can add photos, youtube videos, and furniture to the room to customize it. Every room has a unique URL so you can invite your friends to join room or embed it to your own blog. Users can chat with others users in the room.
This may not be for everyone out there but MySpace crowd may like this tool. Google may turn it to a social network around virtual world with its large user base. As you in the service there is a price option for avatars and accessories and this could prove a better monetization strategy at the end.