Silicon Insider: Applying 'Grand Theft Auto' to Business

In a virtual bookstore, we'd be able to not only pick up the book and thumb through it, but simply wander the aisles for something that captures our eye. In the retail clothing shop, the shelves would only contain items in our size, which our virtual selves could try on in front of a virtual mirror.

Or how about a virtual travel agency that lets you wander through the corridors of the virtual Louvre or sit in an Osaka tea house? It may not be the real thing, but how many of us will ever get to see all of the world's great treasures?

A few years ago, this was just a pipe dream of various futurists. But "GTA 4" is undeniable proof that the future is here right now. So why isn't it happening to the rest of the Web world? Why isn't our online experience as rich as our kids? Where is that Aaron Montgomery Ward of the 21st century to pioneer a new way of retailing?

The answer, I think, is a failure of imagination -- the kind of imagination that the game world eats and breathes. We adults are overdue for some fun of our own. So which mainstream company will have the courage to step up and give us the first "Grand Purchase Auto"? Or "Call of Fashion III"?

This is the opinion of the columnist, and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Michael S. Malone is one of the nation's best-known technology writers. He has covered Silicon Valley and high-tech for more than 25 years, beginning with the San Jose Mercury News, as the nation's first daily high-tech reporter. His articles and editorials have appeared in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, the Economist and Fortune, and for two years he was a columnist for The New York Times. He was editor of Forbes ASAP, the world's largest-circulation business-tech magazine, at the height of the dot-com boom. Malone is the author or co-author of a dozen books, notably the best-selling "Virtual Corporation." Malone has also hosted three public television interview series, and most recently co-produced the celebrated PBS miniseries on social entrepreneurs, "The New Heroes." He has been the ABCNEWS.com "Silicon Insider" columnist since 2000.

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