AOL takes Instant Messenger’s one-dimensional text to Web 2.0 level with 3-D graphics. The avatar will then “react” depending on what you’re chatting about. For example, if you type the word “hello,” the avatar will respond with a handshake and so on.
Clearly targeting a young demographic, both AOL and Meez plan to hawk products via product placement. For example, in the future, a chat session about an iPhone might have an ad for one pop up through your virtual avatar. Or a chat about being thirsty might result in your avatar sipping an ice-cold Coke.
Personally, I think chats should be treated just like any other conversation – with minimal distractions. However, I’m pretty sure there are some 14 year olds out their who would dispute me on that.
Avatars can get totally “pimped out.” Aside from choosing the usual skin tone, hair and eye color, you can even accessorize the virtual you with recording artist-related gear. Wanna look like Soulja Boy or Lil Mama? No problem. Despite the millions of potential combinations, I wasn’t able to create anything that looks remotely like me. Maybe I’m just weird looking.
A potential new revenue stream has the attention of these two major companies and it will be interesting to see how it grows.