Second Life for Business?


Tuesday, 21 October 2008 at 5:00 am Pacific USA Time.

In the scheme of all the Web 2.0 discussions, I decided for the first time ever to look at Second Life. After all, there are a few people who consult or give seminars, and their advice has been hey, you have to be there. So let’s imagine that you are an eBay seller, and you’re thinking about Web 2.0 stuff. Blogging? Sure. Twitter? Definitely! Facebook? Yes. MySpace? Maybe… I think it’s very teen and not business oriented. Second Life? Well here is what I found.

I spent about a total of 4 hours over 2 days in Second Life. Met some nice people. I’d shout out to them, but you get fake names on Second Life (SL), so that would only go so far! For those who are as new as I am, it’s a 3D virtual world where you are in the moment interacting in a whole SIM game… think Roller Coaster Tycoon or The SIMs, but it just keeps going, and other real people are involved.

Money changes hands. Lots of it. I read a stat that something like $1M USD per year changes hands through SL. So you may think hey, I sell on eBay, I have to get in on that. Well, wait. Did I mention that SL has its own currency, the Linden, abbreviated as L$? The currency fluctuates, but tends to be around 250 L$ to one US$. People are selling things around SL, and just about all of those things are for use in SL. For example, you might buy an outfit your avatar can wear. It might be L$400, so that would come out to under $2. It’s like dressing Barbie. :) You can spend money on it, but it doesn’t really translate into a real world life.

But people buy and sell these things! There are always news stories about people making great money being an architect in SL, designing buildings. Land is for sale… create your own place in SL. eBay allows SL things to be sold, so you can get land, L$, and other stuff. I haven’t bought anything yet because I’d like to spend zero on this whole thing! Luckily, SL is free to join, and as long as you keep finding free things to wear or do, you don’t have to pay anybody.

What else to people do there? Hang out. Meet people. Text and voice chat. Buy stuff. Fly around. Build their land. Have virtual sex (can’t speak personally on that one). Pretend they’re someone they’re not. Maybe if you are in a wheelchair, it’s a place where you’re not in a wheelchair. So it’s an escape. But is real life business going on there? Here are my conclusions.

1) No, not really. I wandered into a lot of cool shops that only sold things for my avatar. I would have considered purchasing them to wear in real life. I could only buy them for my avatar. Ads around the shops pointed me to more SL stuff… more SL clothing, even a magazine within SL that claims 25,000 readers. They wanted to know if I wanted to advertise. Not sure about that! :) But even when people in shops had my attention, they didn’t send me to a website where I could buy those boots, those pants, those earrings. It was all stuff for my character, and THAT is the impression I get from SL. Everything is for your character.

2) I think most people are in SL for fun, socialising, and escape. So they may not be thinking about on what to spend real money. They may be into their escape, and may not want to follow a link outside SL to see your cookie jars or cell phone cases. I guess I equate it to walking up to someone who is just getting off a ride at a carnival or fair, and asking them if they would like to buy a spare cell phone battery. They are TOTALLY not "in that space," and may just keep walking past you.

So to speakers and bloggers telling eBay sellers to have a presence in Second Life to promote their eBay Store, I just don’t see it. I DO think SL has business potential, and I’m still investigating. But I don’t think it has a lot of relevance to an eBay or online seller looking for more and new buyers.


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Categories: Just An Observation

Comments Closed

2 Responses to “Second Life for Business?”

  1. Ben says:

    I just wanted to let you know about one business that is using SL to sell real world products. BigPond (www.bigpond.com) is Australia’s largest ISP and has a large presence in SL. They have recently opened a Kiosk in SL at Pondi Beach where staff members assist people with issues with their internet, as well as signing people up to BigPond and its other offerings. So yes, there are companies out there who are offering real world items in SL.
    Ben

  2. TekGems says:

    I think “real world items” are a bit of a stretch for ISP service. ASWAS, I can see you designing in SL since you have the aesthetic sense. But for a tangible goods merchant, its too mundane to have in a 3D space.