HiPiHi, China’s pioneer of the 3D virtual world, and IBM (NYSE: IBM), just announced a strategic partnership to collaboratively promote innovation in the 3D virtual world industry－another major collaboration since HiPiHi joined forces in 2007 with Intel (China) and Vidal Sassoon.
According to the press release, the partnership between HiPiHi and IBM will be involved with a wide range of topics, including technology, operations, business development and marketing. IBM’s Digital Convergence department and IBM China research labs will be involved in this collaboration. The years of research expertise and operating experience of IBM in virtual worlds, especially in terms of hardware and software optimization, is expected to be a valuable complement to HiPiHi’s efforts in realizing the latter’s goals of platform stability, high operating performance and scalability. Concurrently, HiPiHi will also join IBM’s global research drive for inter-operability standards in virtual worlds. Through connecting the HiPIHi World with IBM’s inter-operability platform and co-developing business operating models for platform operators, corporate residents, startups and individuals, HiPiHi and IBM hope to be important driving forces in developing standards for the virtual world industry. In addition, IBM China will also take up residency status in the HiPiHI World and set up a China-themed IBM centre, which will enable Chinese web users to have first-hand, in-world access to virtual world services.
It is very interesting to see that HiPiHi is actually the second Chinese virtual world which IBM has partnered with. In early January, another Beijing-based virtual world UWorld owned by UOneNet has also signed the strategic partnership with IBM. There are many enterprises which have joined Second Life, so very likely we will see some of the international ones will come to the Chinese virtual worlds in 2008? This might be a good strategy for entering the Chinese market. But, we have to notice that the industry is working hard to find the best technology to build the Internet Identity for the user, hopefully we won’t see the same building is duplicated in every virtual world, i.e. end of the day, the enterprise needs a unique virtual Internet Identity too, I believe.