Google will shut down Lively, its browser-based virtual world environment, by the end of December.

Launched in July, Lively is Google's alternative to Second Life and other virtual world environments.

Google said it launched Lively in Google Labs because it wanted users to be able to interact with their friends and express themselves online in new ways.

Google said on its blog that after four and a half months on the Lively project, its resources would be better spent focusing on its core search, advertising and applications businesses.

"We've also always accepted that when you take these kinds of risks not every bet is going to pay off," the posting added.

Google was not immediately available for comment. Google employees working on the project will move to other teams, according to the blog.

Lively users have been asked by Google to capture their work by taking videos and screenshots of their rooms. Rooms and avatars on the site will not be available after Dec 31.