Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Succesful Second Life Business Integration?

Interested to see where Second Life is going, from a business point of view, I asked a short question about thison the Linked-In forum.

The Question:
Second Life is now in hype-stage. But the blizz of drinking virtual whisky's and being hit by a passing whale will be over soon. Does Second Life stand a change from a business point of view?

What will be -in your opinion- the most likely business to succeed in Second Life?
How can we integrate existing real world business into SL, or create Real World business for Second Life

Some Answers:
Answers received from various experts in the IT world:


There is an article in the February 2007 issue of Wired that talks about how MTV is using Second Life to create more buzz around its 'Laguna Beach' show (first link below).

Coca-Cola and Microsoft have also grabbed some virtual real estate in Second Life, presumably to use to promote their real-world products.

Digital farming operations have received a ridiculous amount of attention in the media (see 2nd link below). But beyond these shady and often-hyperbolized enterprises, Second Life does hold some promise as a short-term location for marketing, and as a long-term location for entertainment-related ventures.

The denizens of Second Life have spare time, high-speed connections, and a desire for escapist entertainment. That makes their eyeballs pretty valuable to certain companies. There already are billboards on Second Life, and in the short-term I think there's an opportunity for an outdoor advertising giant to emerge. The business model would be very much like that of a large, real-world billboard owner. The technical challenges would be related to tracking visual impressions, detecting vandalism or obfuscation, etc.

In the long-term, I see Second Life as a great platform for online gaming. I believe that there have already been some early discussions related to this. There is already a conversion rate between Second Life currency (Linden Dollars) and US Dollars. With gaming, the money must be added to the account through a method that makes chargebacks impossible.

What kind of business are you looking at incorporating with Second Life? Would you be willing to provide goods and/or services in exchange for Linden Dollars?

If you have any questions, please let me know.

Best of Luck!



Second Life is not only a gaming world but also a virtual world. The interesting thing about this is that people are in SL also there because of the social aspects. They hang around, meet, conversate, buy and reflect there needs that they have in RL (real life) in SL (Second LIfe) too.

This means they want to own things like a car or motorcycle or just want to have there own place like an island or a house. There is a whole virtual economy already who supports these needs, with real dollars behind it. People even get married in SL or have hobbies like sailing and skydiving.

Even more interesting is SL if you take a look into the future. SL adds the social aspect that misses in even the most sophisticated conferencing or participation technologies. This is why even meetings and virtual presentations could work better in SL then in any other approach.

From a business perspective, I spend much time in traveling for meetings. An important reason behind this, is the social aspect reason. People feel that they have talked to me and they have seen me. This open doors and makes it easier to make appointments. The same thing is true for training and presentations.

A part of this social aspect can be fulfilled by virtual meetings or presentations with virtual characters (avatars) that take place in virtual places with virtual buildings.

They are virtual but they feel ‘real’. There is a thin line between Virtual Reality and Reality. We are just on the beginning of this. Open your eyes.
I think the hype outweighs the reality for Second Life at the moment.
It is interesting that large companies like MS and IBM have a presence in the Virtual World but there generation of revenue from direct sources in SL is in doubt.
Porn will (and is) fueling the most cash generation at the moment as I understand it. The hype machine is in overdrive at the moment and I will be watching with interest the development but I would not be advising people to attach a revenue stream to this for a long time if at all.
As the world is virtual providing more 'space' later for people is not that much of an issue, where the space is is going to be more important.
I think that unless you, as a company, experiment with these types of technological online worlds then you can't take full advantage of what the next generation of online worlds will have to offer.

If i were a big corp - I wouldn't expect any direct monetary positives from anything 'we' did in SL. It's, at this stage, more branding, awareness - and surely the top message is: 'We, (Nike, Coke, MTV... etal..) 'get' what you guys dig here and we are 'with' you.'

I'm sure companies will make mistakes in messaging and 'voice' - in the same way companies will continue to mess up their corporate blogging activities.

It's a learning experience, as in 10 years SL will probably be unrecognizable from what it looks like or 'is' today.

Best make the mistakes and learn those hard lessons now - when there are only 3 million there rather when there are 50 million to see you mess up.

Great questions, and I wish I had the answers. That area is exactly the area I'm interested in exploring. I do believe there is much benefit to be had from integrating business with these virtual words and social networks, but I don't think we have figured out the optimal strategies yet.

One aspect of Second Life that intrigues me is it's value as an application platform / content delivery platform. I've been of the opinion for some time that "the web" is broken in many ways and that "web 2.0" is a giant kludge layered on top of a brutal hack, and have wished for something better. But desktop penetration is so much better for web browsers than for anything else, that web browsers have become *the* platform. IOW, ask how many people have X servers on their desktops. By comparison to web-browsers, the answer is "not very many."

And truth be told, relative to web browsers not many people have Second Life... but I'd wager that many more people have Second Life than have an X server, and I'd further wager that installs of the Second Life client are growing much faster than installs of X servers.

(note: this doesn't really have anything to do with X servers specifically, that's just one made up example to illustrate a point)

And now that the Second Life code is going open-source, is see (in a vague sense) a lot of potential for growing the use of SL as a platform.



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