After a year of hard work from a great team, we launched our new Meez avatar service yesteday. It will be in beta for a couple of months while we fix some emerging bugs, ramp up the infrastructure, and add some features, but the core premise is simple : Meez - Your 3D I.D.
We believe that most social media, blog, and IM users will adopt a more sophisticated and fun way to represent themselves to others, and that Meez absolutely fits that need. It's more flexible than pictures, and more expressive than text or simple emoticons. We've seen it succeed in Asia, and just like ringtones, we'll see it become the norm here over the next couple of years.
How are we different?
1. Ease of Use - we're web-based, not client based. It means we can update the service on the back-end, without forcing the users to download (and keep re-downloading) client software, and it means we can address Mac/Linux users (yeah!) in addition to PC. It took a lot of work to create a 3D, animated service on the web, but some creative work with Java has made it possible.
2. Lots of Content - we have a ton of content available at launch, with more coming every week from our internal and off shore art teams. Most items come with 1-24 possible colors, dramatically expanding the Personalization options. Although the majority of the content is free, we are also launching with a set of optional premium content, both internally produced as well as licensed through great partners such as the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball, with more to come - the virtual item business is finally expanding beyond the MMOG world.
3. A Portable and Partner-Driven Business Model - we believe that the world doesn't need yet another social media or blog site. We're focused entirely on helping our users export their Meez to the sites and services they currently use, whether it's MySpace, LiveJournal or AIM, and soon expanding to cell phones and casual video games. And we're committed to partnering with those types of sites to more tightly integrate the Meez concept into their worlds, just as we successfully did with Rhapsody and Comcast, Best Buy, RoadRunner, etc. We bring a compelling, easy to use avatar service with an attached revenue model and no desire to compete with their core services - who wouldn't go for it? :)
Enough of the commercial - we're excited about the launch, and we'll learn a lot this year as this market matures from a conceptual one into an actual one, just as it has done in Korea where the avatar market is worth hundreds of million dollars a year. Go make your Meez! Another couple of examples are below...