I was reading some very interesting bloggers' opinions about the Klonies service at Skype by Jean Mercier and by Phil Wolff and wanted to answer both. As my comment was becoming longer and longer, I decided to post it here and offer a bonus - Klonies pics!
Before actually addressing the points raised by both Jean and Phil, let me provide some background info for those of you who are not familiar with Klonies; Klonies are a new service of personalized Avatars by the mobile solutions provider Comverse, that enables the creation of Avatars from a big content library of body types, eyes, hairstyles, hats, glasses, moods, clothes, branded accessories, etc., which can be used in traditional web forums, as well as to extend this experience to the mobile arena. Comverse has created a mobile Caller ID service, by which a user can create his Klonie either on the Web or on his mobile handset. Klonies let youth segment do something they could never even dream of doing before: create expressive avatars that represent them on other people’s phones. Klonies give the users extended means for self expression: they define how they are seen by their friends, on their phones.
Both Jean and Phil talk about the workplace and the adult Skype users segment; both raise a certain feeling of discomfort with the young looks of the Klonies; this feeling is associated to the older users (of Skype and in general).
As a member of the Klonies team at Comverse, let me share some insights: at a trial we had at a European TIER 1 mobile operator a few months ago, we received very enthusiastic responses from young adults (19-24) and adults (25 and up) participating the trial. Both young adults and adults participants replied that they find the Klonies content to be appealing and fun to use and that they would be willing to pay for this mobile service.
As for the Klonies looks, yes, Klonies are good looking and juvenile, as they are primarily targeted to the youth mobile market. Klonies are good looking as they are our alter ego, our “wanna be web\mobile persona”. Klonies are also means for playing with our identity. Over the web we can “try” different characteristics as if they were different outfits (or costumes), we can express hidden parts of our personality that we don’t expose in daily life, such as our desires.
As for "rugged", "mature", "experienced", "damaged", “fat” avatars, the question is who would want to have his exact body shape and look to be his\her web representation? Imagine yourself this situation: I’m a very cool teenager but my face is all covered with pimples. Would I want my avatar to be polka dotted as well? -of course not! Would I want to have a button that adds zits to my avatar’s face? -no!! Nobody thinks zits are a good way to promote yourself. We all prefer to show an improved image of ourselves. If an “add a zit" option exists in the avatars building studio, and I’d deny its existence because I want my avatar to look cool and hip (who wouldn’t?!), my friends would say I’m lying about the way I look. The bottom line is that no button that adds flaws is welcome in avatars world. Better not have this possibility\option.
And last note about the Klonies looks - we are working on different skeletons to address different market tastes:
Also, different cultures have different conventions of how to present our body and how to pose:
Thanks Jean or sharing your thoughs and Thanks Phil for raising great ideas (I tried to reply to all of them at the comments section).