In Davos today, during an interview simulcast in the virtual world of Second Life, CEO of the easyGroup Stelios Haji-Ioannou announced that his consortium would soon be launching a new product line to reach out to the expanding market of massively-multiplayer online gamers and virtual worlders. Entitled "easyLife," Mr. Haji-Ioannou described it as a virtual world for the "cost-conscious wired consumer" who wanted their own avatars without the "bells and whistles" of other products like World of Warcraft and Second Life.
"Our strategy is simple," said Haji-Ioannou. "We want to create a fun and immersive experience for our customers while leaving out the extras that add cost on both the consumer and the company end."
UPDATE 1/29/07: Okay, I guess I should admit that this is another one of my hoaxes. Here’s the real interview.
Interviewer Adam Pasick of Reuters asked what some of these "extras" were.
"Oh lots of things," Haji-Ioannou replied. "Do you know that Second Life offers eight different prims to each avatar to manipulate however they wish? Our research has shown that most don’t get past the square and the circle, so that’s all we offer. I don’t even know what a ‘torus’ is. I thought it was a car."
"Also, streaming music is a huge waste of bandwidth," he continued. "Second Life allows you to stream pretty much any music files you can upload to a server, regardless of source. That seems to us to be a huge wasted opportunity. But offering only easyMusic branded content, we can provide the consumer the music listening experience they want while also increasing our profits."
"By lightly branding all content in easyLife with easyGroup products, we can offer an economical virtual world experience to anyone with a computer and internet access. (And yes, it will run on the Mac.)"
Hank Hoodoo from the audience shouted, "But isn’t Second Life basic membership already free? How are you going to beat free?"
Haji-Ioannou smiled. "Easy. We pay you to be a resident of easyLife."
"I’m sorry, how does that work?" asked an incredulous Adam Pasick.
"Each resident gets a weekly allowance of easyEuros, virtual currency that can be used both to purchase goods in-world but also to pay for real products offered by easyGroup in the real world. So you could get an easyPizza, rent an easyCar, fly on easyJet or sail away on an easyCruise, all paid with easyEuros," said Haji-Ioannou with a satisfied smirk.
"Our gamble is that once you start using our services, you’ll see us as your favorite brand whether it comes to groceries, hygiene products or pet supplies."
"But people like to have choices," Gigi Giles criticized from the audience.
"Oh, you’ll have plenty of choices," replied Haji-Ioannou. "Just all of them will be orange."
easyLife is expected to be out of beta by Q2 of 2007. Credit to Hank Hoodoo, who originally coined the term easyLife.