Google getting into virtual world space?

Rumors are rife that the Web search giant Google may be planning to roll out its own version of an online virtual world. News of a virtual world technology under test at the Arizona State University may well be the entry point for Google into a service that can cash in on the growing popularity of virtual worlds.

A quote from a blog at

To be sure, there's no doubt that Google has the resources, especially with Sketchup and Google Earth, to build a vast and powerful 3D virtual world. To many, they're very likely the only ones who could ramp up such an operation and quickly make it successful.

Information on the Google virtual world leaked out when a Arizona State University student posted a comment on a forum referring to the beta test of a 3D world based on social networking and avatars. The move would synchronize well with Google purchase of 3D modeling tool SketchUp (Tech Crunch).

Google has its fingers in many pies, but its main bread and butter is still advertising. With a buzz surrounding every new service that Google announces, it will be worth watching how popular the new service gets vis-a-vis the likes of Second Life. Don't forget that its prolific ad network can help sustain perhaps any online venture.

More news links:

Google moving in on Second Life? (ComputerWorld)

Google Earth could go after second life (WebProNews)

Google testing My World for launch this year (Ars Technica)