GrooveNet is considered as the first virtual world set-up in the Philippines. The service will turn 2 years old this June and it has over 100,000 members in the Philippines and thousands more Filipino members abroad, according to Gregory "Greg" Kittelson, co-founder and president of the company. "Initially, we launched with very simple profile pages and There (virtual world). Since then we have added many compelling features such as our GrooveNet Music & Lyrics player and a music widget to add to other social networking sites. Early this year we also converted our entire profile pages into Adobe Flex, which is a better technology. We hosted eyeball parties in Metro Manila so our members can meet in person and get to know one another."
GrooveNet has its own virtual currency, Therebucks. This can be used to buy items items in their virtual world and be able to buy physical goods like roses in the future.
Greg shared that 90% of GrooveNet traffic is from the Philippines. "Generally, our members are Filipinos interested in meeting other people and are interested in music, nightlife, and even travel."
Like any community site, one major challenge is maintaining an active base of loyal users in your community. Greg recognizes that the growth of Facebook and a few other social networks has its effects to other players. "However, we are able to combat this with localized content, such as local music and lyrics and nightlife. For example, you will never see Bamboo or Cueshe on the front pages or music pages of Friendster, Facebook or MySpace. Nor will you see the latest parties happening in Makati or the Fort on those sites either. However, you will see Filipino bands and parties all over the GrooveNet site. Our eyeball parties also keep our members loyal, as they offer a medium for them to finally get to meet and partake in nightlife and other social activities together."
Greg is optimistic on the potential of virtual worlds in the Philippines. Companies, sooner or later, may have to use this as a new venue to reach out to target markets. "I think we are just scratching the surface with virtual worlds, not just in the Philippines but around the globe. They are becoming more and more popular as people go online and the internet infrastructure improves. Virtual worlds are a great way to market, interact and even learn about your target market."