Corporate Training & e-Learning Blog


More on Second Life - It's NOT a Game

I came across an extremely informative article on (written by Fortune magazine senior writer David Kirkpatrick) about the metaverse Second Life and the world of 3D online experiences - which really has become a phenomenon! The article was written earlier this year, so all of the numbers in the article (and quoted below) are outdated (too low now) - but you will get the idea!! Some interesting highlights include:

IBM's $10M: Last November, IBM CEO Sam Palmisano announced that it just started a $10 million project to help building out the "3-D Internet" exemplified by Second Life. Palmisano calls 3-D realms such as Second Life the "next phase of the Internet's evolution" and says they may have "the same level of impact" as the first web explosion.

All User-Driven: Although Linden Lab (the San Francisco company) created Second Life, everything is created by users, for users. The entire virtual world of Second Life is hatched completely by the users.

Text to Voice: As a highly social medium, you will see lots of other avatars all over Second Life. Text chat is ubiquitous, and voice conversation is coming (although no one has announced when).

3-D Net: Huge corporations like IBM see the "ability to use Second Life as a platform for a whole new Net - this one in 3-D and even more social than the original - with huge opportunities to sell products and services."

Big-Name Investors: Many big names have invested in Second Life already because they see it (like Microsoft or eBay) as "a venue in which thousands of ancillary businesses can sprout." Linden Lab's backers "include some of the world's smartest, richest, and most successful tech entrepreneurs." Some include a former columnist for Fortune magazine, the creator of Lotus 1-2-3 (the spreadsheet application that helped begin the PC software revolution - and I used to teach it to clients in corporate training classrooms!!), the founder of eBay, CEO of Amazon, and Microsoft's chief technology architect and inventor of Lotus Notes. These are some heavy-hitters in technology innovation, and they think Second Life may be next!! At least one man's prediction is this: "In two years, I think Second Life will be huge, probably as large as the entire gaming community is today."

Inception/Infancy/Linden Dollars: Second Life opened in June 2003. There was nothing there, nowhere to go, nobody to see. About 1,000 people kept visiting regularly and dreaming up cities, jungles, games, clubs, and all kinds of crazy avatars. Second Life was relaunched in January 2004 with greater focus on user creativity and in-world entrepreneurship. Linden also began allowing people to exchange real dollars ($) with Linden dollars (L). This allowed Second Life to become a real economy where residents can build, own, or sell their digital creations. In fact, about $600,000 is spent daily in Second Life, for an annual GDP of about $220 million!

Virtual Land: Linden's new business model focused on the sale of virtual land - and Linden Lab began generating serious revenue (that now grow at least 10% every month). They have sold 3,500 private islands, each equivalent to 16 acres in the real world. As the population increases, Linden simply creates more digital real estate! Each island costs $1,675 to purchase and $295/month to maintain. Some buyers subdivide their land and rent or sell it at a profit. IBM is one of the biggest landowners with over 24 islands!

Entrepreneurs Welcome! Any resident can become an entrepreneur. Wanna be a nightclub owner, jewelry maker, landscaper, pet manufacturer (huh?), store owner, beach owner, builder, ski champion? If you can dream it, you can do it - and make money at it. Take a look at one kinda famous Second Life resident, whose avatar is known as Anche Chung: She claims "to have accumulated a real-world net worth of more than $1 million in Second Life real estate. She now employs 30 people in China who build things and otherwise improve the land she buys and develops for resale." Something very nice happened to another Second Lifer who "developed a gambling game called Tringo, a cross between Tetris and Bingo. It becamse so popular that it has been licensed for Nintendo's Game Boy Advance!!

How to Make Money? Big companies like Nike, Sony, Toyota, Sun, and others have operations in Second Life. Some sell virtual clothing and other merchandise for avatars; some even move real product. There are about 65 virtual companies that have sprung up (been created) inside Second Life to serve real-world business customers. About 350 people work full-time for these virtual companies, and there are at least $10 million worth of such projects underway.

Where IS This Headed? This field of metaverses will become very competitive. We are in the earliest days of exploration, and no one knows exactly where we'll all end up. IBM's VP of technical strategy says, "Today virtual worlds are where video and VCRs were in the early 1980s, or where the web was in 1993."

So I say, hold on tight. This is guaranteed to be a very exciting ride!!


  • Did you see where they have used SL for conducting Virtual Job Fairs? This is a trend setting idea and saves on money and travel. I believe we will start to see more of this.

    (a.k.a. WeirdGuy)

    By Blogger Eric, at 9:08 PM EST  

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