After a very good board meeting with Maxthon, I paid a visit to HiPiHi - Chinas answer to Second Life. This came about after I had written a short post on them earlier and got an invitation to swing by their office. Kaiser Kuo (Ogilvy) and Xinhua Liu (early investor in HipiHi & Technology Director at Burson-Marsteller).. also joined me.
Armed with camcorders, cameras and curious minds, we invaded HiPiHi physically and virtually. I must say that I was really impressed. I always felt like Second Life was too geeky and to inaccessible, and therefore had only signed in a couple of times and flied around out of boredom.
Not so at HiPiHi. They have been smart enough to realize that most of us deadly are not geeks and need a more user-friendly user-interface to motivate us enough to play around in this virtual world. Although they are just in private alpha, they have come along way with a team of just 60. The user is offered a bunch of pre-fabricated avatars, buildings, hills, rocks, objects and event water to furnish their own worlds. Should they feel for it later, the user can always customize or create any object from scratch as they see fit.
It is clear that HiPiHi has given much thought into making the virtual world more user-friendly. HiPiHi's CEO Hui Xu (beside me on the picture above) explained to us that the service will be launched in four stages based on traditional Chinese creational mythology (read Kaisers summary for an expansion on this).
Revenues will come from virtual property sales and advertising. And I can definitely see how advertisers will love this. Especially since HiPiHi is targeting the young and cool rather than a bunch of geeks in pajamas or "social media stars".
I shot a couple of short clips of a walk-through in HipiHi-land with a simple digital camera. Comments are both in Chinese & English. More clips here.
I have a very good feeling about HiPiHi and am waiting eagerly for the public launch.
(Image above: Sunset in HiPiHi-land).