MMO Meets MySpace?

Kaneva… or if that doesn’t grab you, how about World of MyCraft, or even Third Life? A new start-up called Kaneva is gunning for the market somewhere between online worlds and social networks with an avatar-based space now in closed Beta.

Not so much a contiguous world but a network of cribs, where each subscriber has an apartment, roughly equivalent to a MySpace page, but in 3D. (So when you want to stream your favorite video a la MySpace, it’ll show up on your pad’s TV.) Another clever feature: when users create a group (say anime fans, or Obama supporters, or whatever), they get a space of their own to hang out in. Expected revenue model will be a Kaneva virtual currency that users can buy with real cash. Expected headaches (in my experience) will likely come from the buying and selling of that currency by clever entrepreneurs in a way that’ll cause social disruptions and hyper-competitiveness that drives many away.

Mark Wallace has the full report at 3pointD.com, though nothing there or at the official site mentions anything about user-created content (except uploading textures and videos), so it’s hard to see this competing directly with Second Life. As described, the target audience will be those who’d otherwise be interested in There, or the American version of the phenomenally successful Cyworld, originally from South Korea. It’s been estimated that a full 90 percent of South Koreans under 30 have a CyWorld account, which should give you an idea at the potential size of this space. Whether Kaneva comes anywhere close to that is still anyone’s guess.