Launched in the UK in April, Cycosmos.com - where users create their own 'avatars' or cyber characters and interact with other avatars - drew its inspiration from the science-fiction novel Snowcrash about people living in a virtual world. Launched as an experiment, the amount of interest the site received turned it into a serious business.
Site characteristics The site is easy to use and is visually attractive with clear, bold graphics. The virtual world includes everything from an art gallery to a bargain basement and chatrooms.
Target demographics The site is aimed at 18- to 35-year-olds with a 60:40 male bias.
Principals The founder of the site is Bernd Kolb, the chief executive of the site's owner, the digital agency I-D Media.
Backers I-D Media is the main backer, although IBM is working with it to build the e-business side. It uses IBM software and IBM developers, who are also working on the launch of the second phase of Cycosmos.com, which will be appearing next year.
Marketing The site has been well advertised, with banner advertising from Ad Pepper as well as a continuous PR campaign through Cake involving stickers and flyers in bars and clubs in UK cities, and the sponsoring of London rickshaws. There was also a TV and fly-poster campaign during the summer.
Competitors Although this site is fairly well established, it does have competitors, which include the likes of V-Zones, the Scandinavian site Dobedo and GeoCities.
THE YEAR AHEAD
If good design and smooth branding were the requisites for success, this would be a winner. It takes more than that, though, and this could go either way. - We're not convinced.