Virtual worlds and social networks seem destined to begin incorporating each other's features. One recently-launched Web venture, Shtyle.fm, is saying it's the first hybrid social network and virtual world. The site is currently ranked in the top 1500 sites globally and is founded by India native Vaibhav Beniwai. Shtyle.fm serves over 8 million monthly active users.
So what makes Shtyle.fm a virtual world? The logic seems to be that users have access to social spaces called "rooms" instead of standard Facebook-style profiles. Users can purchase virtual items from the site's item shop to decorate their rooms, but don't seem to be able to explore or interact with the virtual space using avatars.
It's possible this feature is intended to be added in the future, since without avatars it's hard to describe Shtyle.fm as more of a virtual world than, say, Korea's Cyworld social network. Shtyle.fm was developed by two persons on a budget the site's press release describes as "shoestring," without venture funding, so the site may have any number of features on the backburner for future rollout.
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