Second Life may have nudged its Grid onto the mobile screen, but it's Gemini's EXplo platform for enabling mini virtual worlds that earned a spot on Deloitte's Wireless Fast 50 list at the CTIA Wireless conference (coverage).
In S'town, a game built on the EXplo platform, users can chat on screen, buy products, stare at advertising billboards, and meet up with online friends, even whooshing to a meeting point on the other end of the expansive world. That's in Japan, where impressive phones on the Softbank network are already attracting a demographic of "young, active, and 'fun'" 18 to 24 year-old women who don't mind expressing themselves in one of 11 rudimentary avatars.
North America's S'town is apparently a much different world. This audience will be able to integrate with services like YouTube and Facebook. In a demo, Stephen Sims, Gemini's Director of Product Management for EXplo, walked a bouncy, pig-tailed avatar into a Facebook gallery whose virtual walls were decked with album images. In another view, pressing the phone's soft key button reeled through images vertically as if on a giant turbine, from the far "wall."
North American carriers will begin marketing games like S'town using Gemini's platform "sometime in 2008," Sims assured me. Europeans will likely get them much sooner; carrier talks are underway.