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11/20/2008
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Google's Lively Set To Die In December

The 3-D interactive chat environment will join the list of Google misfires when it closes, less than six months after launch.

Google launched Lively, its 3-D interactive chat environment, in July, hoping "to help people experience another dimension of the Web."

That dimension turned out to be flat. Lively never came alive as a social destination, and Google on Wednesday said that it plans to shutter the service at the end of the year.

In a post on the Official Google Blog, the Lively team explained that Google has always been willing to accept that some experiments don't work out.

"That's why, despite all the virtual high fives and creative rooms everyone has enjoyed in the last four and a half months, we've decided to shut Lively down at the end of the year," the blog post explains. "It has been a tough decision, but we want to ensure that we prioritize our resources and focus more on our core search, ads, and apps business. Lively.com will be discontinued at the end of December, and everyone who has worked on the project will then move on to other teams."

Lively joins the list of Google misfires, which includes Google Answers, a fee-based question and answer service; Google Video, which originally allowed users to search the transcripts of television shows; Google Browser Sync, a Firefox synchronization extension; and Google Compute, a distributed computing Google Toolbar plug-in.

Only a month after Lively launched, an article in The Economist declared the experiment a flop. Beyond technical troubles, the reason Lively failed, suggested Greg Lastowka, an associate professor at Rutgers School of Law and an expert on law applied to virtual worlds, is that "there's nothing to do in Lively if you're not talking to someone."

As can be inferred from the 30% decline in unique monthly visitors from September to October, as estimated by Compete, users' interest in Lively's avatar-based chat service is waning. Let the last one out turn off the lights.

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