When we at CNET first heard about Cloud Girlfriend--a yet-to-launch service that creates your dream girl and then puts her on display so all your social-networking connections can admire her witty status updates and wall posts--we turned a wary eye to the calendar. Less than a week to April Fools' Day. What are the odds that a start-up that creates fake Facebook girlfriends is itself a fake?
We found a couple of red flags:
1. The Web site is currently a polished but simple "launching soon" placeholder that looks to have taken about two minutes to put up using a new service called Launchrock.
2. The purported business model completely misses out on the substantial market for cloud boyfriends:
Step 1: Define your perfect girlfriend.
Step 2: We bring her into existence.
Step 3: Connect and interact with her publicly on your favorite social network.
Step 4: Enjoy a public long-distance relationship with your perfect girl.
But then we found the brains behind the operation, a financial analyst for San Diego-based wireless company Remec named David Fuhriman who swears it's the real deal. We had a number of questions for Fuhriman, and he answered most of them, kind of...
As Fuhriman put it in an e-mail to CNET, the premise behind Cloud Girlfriend is all about boosting your online persona:
"CloudGirlfriend.com's tagline is, 'The easiest way to get a girlfriend is to already have one.' Providing social proof is important part of the dating process. We all look to cues to help us navigate through life," he said. "People who use the site don't want to be labeled, so they can use the site to jump-start the process of changing social perceptions about themselves."
In other words, your pretend Facebook girl will use your wall to make you look a little more... date-able. This is sounding more and more like an Ashton Kutcher movie.
Fuhriman goes on to declare that "CloudGirlfriend.com is not a new virtual porn site or an adult chat service," but instead a means for fulfilling the top tiers in Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Yes, he's serious.
"CloudGirlfriend.com can fulfill Maslow's higher needs, even though the users know that the interaction is virtual. They will interact with a real person and see real profile images of the girl with whom they interact. This interaction can build confidence and esteem as well as provide real training experiences in navigating a friendship and a relationship."
Fuhriman says the service will be operated by real people, not bots, and promises that it won't ruin the legitimacy of your favorite social network, making the very prescient observation that "...there will always be more profiles of dogs and cats on social networks than there will ever be of Cloud Girlfriends."
The Cloud Girlfriend co-founder did leave many of our questions unanswered, though. No word on when the service will launch, how much it might cost, or what considerations are given to the poor dude who is inadvertently outed as a "cloud dater." Also no word on plans for "Cloud Boyfriends" any time soon. Then again, who needs one when "Text Boyfriends" are already available for two bucks a week?
So while the ladies can look forward to those romantic 140-character sonnets, the gentlemen among us will continue to wait for perfection from the cloud and take our other virtual girlfriends on fancy beach vacations.