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City8.com – 360 Degree Panorama Local Map Service
I have briefed my thoughts about the 3D internet in my previous post and also introduced a new jargon Web3.d learned from Sam Sethi who just published a very interesting post about 3D Desktop. So will the 3D internet be a big thing in 2007? I am not the expert to draw the conclusion, and I also think it is still too early to wrap this up. But I have a nice example here to show you what’s happening in Chinese 3D internet market.
City8.com (City 8 means City Pub in Chinese) is launched in July, 2006. Shanghai-based City8.com offers 360 degree panorama local map service (currently only in Shanghai and Beijing) with the Virtual Reality technology of Easypano. Easypano is a worldwide leading virtual tour software provider, its customers include Intel, Siemens, Boeing, NASA etc.
City8.com combines 360 degree panorama along with GIS map to provide an unique visual local search service. There are a few online map services running in China, such as Google Ditu (with its partner Mapabc.com), Baidu Map, Mapbar.com, Sogou Map, etc. Like none of them, City8 is doing this job in a more comprehensive and creative way:
1. Map Search – You can search for a location, a business, and get instructions for bus lines or driving direction. You can actually see the panorama view of the location you searched, which help you to know what this location and its neighbor area look like. (I bet guys like me will love this. It always takes me quite a long while to find out the right building.)
2. Exploring the city – If you want to travel to somewhere, it will be surely worthy spending some time to Walk through some places in your destination first to make a better travel plan.
3D panorama view is brilliant, but do not forget that it is in China and how long it will take for City8 in order to build a nation-wide service? It will be interesting to know what its marketing strategy would be. Another question from me is the Cost. Many cities are under developing everyday, since 3D contains so much detailed local information, how frequently the 3D data has to be updated and how much it will cost each time?
A Flash-based version will be released very soon (unfortunately, its Java Applet version only works with IE) and some functionalities like Map Sharing will be added to please the Web2.0 fans. More cities across this nation can be explored from this city bar early next year.
“City8.com is self-funded service, and we are now talking to some venture capital partner. “, Yu Jianjun CEO told me. It should not be difficult to find some VCs, I believe plenty of business model can be explored. How the advertising business works in Second Life?
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