Discussing Second Life and Google’s new SketchUp product in April 2006, I wrote
What stops Google from offering a virtual-earth.google.com that is essentially a coordinate space for users to populate with their models? … [This] could be used to spice up many Google offerings, such as Google Groups’ mail list feature, IM, personal home pages and the nascent markets on Google Base.
Techcruch is now reporting a rumour that Google is turning Google Earth into a virtual world. Given Google’s strengths open standards, I would be be surprised if a Google offering didn’t improve on Second Life’s walled-garden approach. Of course, given that Google paid for YouTube’s community, it wouldn’t surprise me if at some point Google acquired Linden Labs or reached some sort of understanding to ‘join’ the two worlds.