Benefits of the Cloud: Servers, Capacity, Storage...Girlfriend?

Ever gotten the feeling some overhyped tech thing has been taken too far - sometimes way too far - by people trying to sell it or people trying to use it to sell other things?

Well, combine the twin trends toward cloud computing, online dating and...ehhhrmm...do-it-yourself romance, and you get "Cloud Girlfriend."

Cloud Girlfriend is a web-based application that delivers a composite of human-imitating behaviors to give the impression the fake girlfriend you tell co-workers about is an actual person.

It hasn't launched yet, so specific features aren't nailed down, but the theory is that it would leave messages on your Facebook wall or send texts at key times, or act as a proxy for pictures being posted by someone who is definitely not you trying to put up 'shopped fotos of you and the popular people you hang with.

It's not online porn, and it's not all AI. Real people, theoretically, would be leaving the messages on your wall.

It already has a Twitter feed and 548 followers, with just 21 Tweets.

It could be a legitimate service, it could be a scam.

It could be just part of the self-promotion experiment being conducted by LaunchRock, an online-marketing company launched Jan. 31 whose revolutionary marketing principle is the same as the riddle about how you keep a moron in suspense: "I'll tell you later."

A notice on the girlfriend site said it's powered by Launchrock, which launched itself by putting up a web page with its name and logo, and a "Coming soon" notice.

It's the Coming soon that's is the key according to a release from the company's founders:

While brainstorming ways to make new websites "go viral," the trio of web entrepreneurs stumbled upon a seductively simple idea:

1. Create a "coming soon" page before a website launches.

2. Promise access to the future website for anyone who signs up themselves and at least three friends.

The original site generated more than 25,000 hits overnight and 2,200 mentions on Facebook and Twitter over four days, the release said. Now they're offering to do the same for other companies.

The concept is a sales scam similar to that of health clubs that give you a free or discounted membership as long as you bring in friends you can talk into selling their souls into long-term contracts they don't really want.

There's no indication if Cloud Girlfriend is launching soon, what, specifically, it would do, how many friends you have to bring to become its boyfriend (or girlfriend; it doesn't appear to require heteronormality).

Nor does it give any indication whether the emails it collects (with a promise it will notify you when something happens) are just a way to collect legitimate emails.

It is getting a lot of attention, though.

Kevin Fogarty writes about enterprise IT for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @KevinFogarty.

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