Archive for the ‘Virtual Life’ Category

Does Disney “Get” Virtual Worlds?

Second Life is looking for it’s Second Wind. There.com isn’t quite there yet. The media hype that surrounded virtual worlds just a year ago has ratcheted way back. Real world companies who came in not understanding what they were getting into quickly faded away after they didn’t get what they were expecting.

But one demographic seems to be doing quite well in the virtual space: Kids. If you have one of these living under your roof, you probably know that they are actively participating in online virtual/social networking spaces. They are joining online social networks at increasingly early ages (pre-school in the case of Club Penguin) and in those spaces, they are forming relationships that are very real.

This high level of participation has made kid-oriented worlds like Habbo, Gaia Online, Neopets, Webkinz and Nicktropolis more successful that adult oriented virtual worlds. Disney’s launched Virtual Magic Kingdom in 2005 with a target audience of 8 – 14 year-olds. Seeing business opportunity in the virtual space, they paid $350 Million to acquire Club Penguin last year. This year, Disney launched Pirates of the Caribbean Online to attract a somewhat older, but still teen aged audience (mostly boys) and Pixie Hollow (targeted at girls) is set to be launched later this year. The longer range plan, according to Mike Goslin, VP of Disney’s Virtual reality Studio, is to “have a large number of virtual world for a range of different audiences… sort of like a theme park.” The strategy also includes making the different worlds “feel like a common experience” including the ability to move your social contacts between virtual experiences.

Last Week, Shel Israel posted an fascinating video interview with Goslin and other senior team members from Disney’s Interactive Studios.

In the interview, the Disney team talks about the differentiators that they bring to the game. The most interesting one for me was the idea of Context. Like physical playgrounds, Disney sees their virtual worlds as socializing environments. In them, kids are learning collaboration skills, communication skills and social skills, but as with most everything Disney does, these interactions and communications are done in the context of a story. Disney believes creating social environments and communities around a context adds value to both consumers and business. On the customer side, building environments around a theme drives engagement by communities of interest who are passionate about that theme (think “ESPN Fantasy Football”). This leads to large communities that are defined by their common interest as opposed to the relatively small number of people that may be in your friend list. Those large communities with common interests provides a context for a business model like advertising. Because the community is all there for the same reason, they will likely engage in predictable ways (i.e. minimize random and inappropriate behavior).

Conspicuously absent from the interview was any mention of Disney’s Virtual Magic Kingdom (“VMK”). VMK was launched in 2005 as part of the Disneyland 50th year celebration. In it, participants create rooms themed after Magic Kingdom attractions, play mini-games, collect inventory and make friends. Just seven months after launch, Disney announced the game surpassed one million players and over 1.3 million personalized in-game rooms. Last month, with no advance notice, Disney announced that they would be shutting the doors on this virtual theme park on May 21. Predictably, the outcry from the “community” has been loud and is growing as the date approaches. A number of petitions have collected thousands of signatures, boycotts are being threatened and one group, VMK Kids Unite, is organizing a protest at the gates of Disneyland on May 10 which may be covered by CNN and CBS. Obviously, adults are helping to organize these efforts, but the kids are the driving force. Kids who are already comfortable with the participatory web and who want to have their voices heard.

So here’s my takeaway. From the interview, its clear that Disney understands the business opportunity in Virtual Worlds & Social Networks. The also have a pretty good idea how to build communities through contextually engaging virtual experiences. On the other hand, Disney’s decision to shut down VMK demonstrates that perhaps they don’t really get the “social” component. In these social environments, Disney’s role is to provide the frameworks (architectural, security and creative) and the context, but the real content is created by the participants. In shutting down VMK, they aren’t just closing an amusement park attraction. They are throwing away the work of the thousands of dedicated, passionate kids who have spent countless hours building and sharing wonderfully imaginative experiences, and in the process, will be alienating many of their most dedicated and influential advocates.

What do you think? Is closing VMK “just business”? Will the kids get over it? Is this consistent with Disney’s brand?

Update: Per my daughter’s advice, here are links to http://www.savevmk.com and http://www.savevmktoday.com

Update #2:  My daughter wrote a song and created a video about saving VMK.  Check it out here.

Marketing to Youth in Social/Virtual Worlds

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As I sit here in my kitchen looking for a job, my daughter Tyler and her friend have the big HP notebook fired up and pointed at Disney’s Virtual Magic Kingdom. Tyler, who just entered her teen years, has been playing around in virtual worlds for a few years now. She has as many friends in these communities as she does in real life and she is not alone. Millions of younger kids are spending significant time in virtual worlds like Disney’s Toontown, VMK, Club Penguin, Webkinz and Whyville. The market for “safe” teen social sites and virtual worlds continues to grow as well with MTVs virtual worlds, There.com, Doppelganger and others.

According to a recent study, 71 percent of tweens and teens between the ages of 9 and 17 visit social/virtual world sites weekly. There isn’t a clear tally of the virtual world population, but the number of registered users for kids and teen worlds is growing. From the study:

Urban teen environment Doppelganger has nearly 150,000 registered members, while PG-13 site There.com has 1 million members, 70 percent of whom are between the ages of 13 and 26. Self-described “edutainment” site for tweens, Whyville, has 2.3 million users.

As has been pointed out in numerous studies, many kids are watching less television, preferring instead to spend time on the internet. In the last week alone, my daugher has watched maybe 6 hours of TV, but has spent three times that much time on YouTube, VMK and other social sites. I’m beginning to think the computer is somehow physically attached to her as she takes it everwhere.

Enter the Marketers

Over at ClickZ, Matthew Nelson published a good article last month which discusses the the marketing landscape in youth oriented virtual worlds. He points out that in the PG-13 worlds, marketers are quite active in promoting specific items that appeal to todays teens (clothing, music, electronics). The challenge here is to find ways to engage them. As Nelson points out, this audience has been the target of sophisticated campaigns since they were babies. They recognize when they are being marketed to and will simply ingnore the message if it doesn’t add value to them.

To appeal to teens, advertisers and virtual worlds often team-up around themes that are clear fits, such as music, entertainment, clothing and electronics, but marketers need to engage their audience to keep them coming back. Recently, There.com signed an agreement with Capitol Music Group to bring music artists into its world, and created a series of virtual nightclubs for them to play in. More than that, users will be able to watch videos and interact with band members.

“The artists are realizing they need to be more involved with their market,” said Michael Wilson, CEO of There. “And this is a more efficient way to meet a fan, to change the engagement with them from a few moments to minutes.”

Nelson points out that there has been conscious decision among the young kid oriented sites to disallow all in-world advertising, but that’s not to say that the sites themselves aren’t powerful marketing vehicles for the brands that own them. The point of sites like Nicktropolis, Toontown & VMK is to get kids to interact and engage with the brand. Spend any time in VMK and you will see all kinds of in-world ad for Disney properties.

Youth Are Receptive to Marketers IF….

A recent study conducted by Grunwald Associates found that kids (9 to 17-year olds) are not only spending significant time in social sites, but are willing to engage with advertisers in those spaces is they are approached in the right way (i.e. must be relevant and perceived as adding value).

Disney obviously understands the attraction of social/virtual worlds to their target consumer (kids) and are aggressively moving to expand their presence. They are planning new virtual worlds around specific properties like Pirates of the Carribean and just this week bought Club Penguin. By simply renaming it “Disney’s Club Penguin” club penguin fans become Disney fans. Others brands, such as Capital Music Group, are partnering with virtual worlds to build persistent experiences for their consumers to interact with. If you market products to youth, social/virtual worlds are clearly channels that you need be exploring. These are two examples of what I think are successful approaches to marketing in social/virtual worlds.

Do you have some examples to share (good or bad)? What are the big pitfalls of marketing to youth through these channels.

Discuss……

Thursday Night at the Airport

This should be a twitter, but the WordPress guys haven’t jomped on that bandwagon.  Anyway, long day at the Virtual Worlds ’07 conference, but well worth the trip.  Too tired to write about it now, but will provide an update tomorrow.

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In the meantime, if you want to see a pretty cool and unexpected corporate build in SecondLife, check out Pontiac’s Motorati Island

Virtual Worlds ’07 – Day One

courtesy of Greg Verdino

If you were not able to get a pass to the sold-out Virtual Worlds ’07 conference in NYC, you are missing out on a great experience.  Compared to other conferences I have attended, this small and intimate gathering is great opportunity to network and to have conversations with some to the early movers and shakers in the virtual world space.

Just about everyone you would want to speak with is here and most of them are participating in panel discussions.  Highlights from today’s session (with links to blogs from other attendees who took better notes than I did):

Phillip Rosedale confessed that his thinking about virtual worlds has changed from being focused on the physics of it, to the realization that it’s the social interaction that’s so powerful. (GregVerdino2.0)

Second Life Technology VP Joe Miller disclosed:

  • We’ll be open-sourcing the back end so sims can run anywhere on any machine whether trusted by us or not.
  • We’ll be delivering assets in a totally different method that won’t be such a burden on the simulators.
  • Very soon we’ll be updating simulators to support multiple versions so that we don’t have to update the entire Grid at once.
  • We’ll be using open protocols.
  • SL cannot truly succeed as long as one company controls the Grid.

 MTV Networks announced a number of new expansions, building on their successful Virtual Laguna Beach and Virtual Hills.  First up, Virtual Pimp My Ride set in the home of the fast and furious crowd, Van Nuys, CA.

In the afternoon, there was a great discussion on virtual world consumer behaviors and the evolution of social networking.

More to come after tomorrow’s session.

eBay bans auctions of virtual goods

On January 1, the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) “World of Warcraft” released a major new upgrade.  The 3D Virtual World game has over 7 Million subscribers worldwide who shell out a monthly fee to play the game.  In addition, the community of WoW players has created a thriving marketplace for virtual goods on eBay, where virtual weapons, attire and characters have been selling for real cash.  While there is no universally agreed-upon value for “Real-Money Trades” (RMTs) market, it is assumed to be worth somewhere between $250 million and $880 million a year, according to experts. 

eBay, which has dominated the market for these transactions has confirmed that they are now going to ban auctions for the characters, currency, weapons, attire and accounts of online games such as World of Warcraft, City of Heroes and others.

In most cases, publishers of online games include in their terms of service a prohibition on RMTs.  Players who violate such rules can be banned.   eBay’s move is a boon for companies like Internet Gaming Entertainment who now own the third party market.   Julian Dibbell, author of Play Money: Or How I Quit My Day Job and Struck it Rich in Virtual Loot Farming commented that this development is “sad” because it restricts individuals from being direct participants in the markets themselves.  I should note that SecondLife is not affected by this move since virtual goods in that realm are freely traded.

If I had to bet, I would expect that the community is not going to accept this change quitely.  It’s in their nature to be active participants, to control the content, terms of service be damned.  When it comes to digital content, be it a virtual tool, or a song from Tool, the community always finds a way to get what they want on their terms.

 The article on CNET goes into more detail regarding the motivations behind eBay’s decision. 

CBS, Sling & SecondLife???

In case you haven’t see this, CBS will be joined by Sling Media and SecondLife in a presentation at CES today.  I’ll update the post after the details are out.

UPDATE:  So the keynote is over and here’s the skinny.  For the past year of so, we’ve all been talking about “The New Media”,  “Generation C(ontent)”,  “Web twodotwhatever” and so on.  We’ve also been saying that traditional media “doesn’t get it” or is no longer relevant. 

Apparently good old CBS isn’t going to go away quitely.  Instead, they have spent the last year developing lots of new partnerships with everyone from social networking sites for lesbians to SecondLife where a virtual replica of the Starship Enterprise (CBS property) will be made available to residents.  Perhaps that’s a bit over the top, but this is afterall the age of “Individual and Interactive”.  There is no niche too small (right longtailers?) and we all want to play a starring role.

In his keynote address, CBS President and CEO Leslie Moonves showed off quite a few of his new friends to demonstrate that CBS “gets it”.

“The symbiotic relationship (between online and television content) will only tighten,” Moonves said. “What’s a big media company like us to do? We’re embracing it big time. We’re doing just about everything we can to see what’s going to work now and in the future.” That often means bringing in people outside CBS to do so, he said.

The partnership with Sling media involves Sling’s latest technology called Clip + Sling. It allows users to clip content from live or recorded TV and share it with anyone, including non-Slingbox owners. The clip can be sent in an e-mail that plays the video from a hosted portal.   It’s not exactly YouTube, so to cover all the bases, CBS also has a joint venture with Google’s latest toy in the form of a contest in which users submit 15-second videos to YouTube about anything they’d like.  The highest-rated video will be broadcast on CBS during this year’s Superbowl.

The message from Moonves is that “there is no such thing as old media and new media.  There’s just media.” Is this kind of media mash-up going to save the traditional guys from extinction?   What do you think?  While you ponder that, I think I’ll head over the the StarTrek sim in SecondLife.  I hear there’s a helluva dance party going on in the shuttle craft bay 🙂

SecondLife Goes OpenSource

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Chief Linden, Philip Rosedale said today that Linden Labs is going to make the core codebase for SecondLife available to developers.  Considering that the contents of SecondLife has been developed entirely by user “residents”  and the number of registered avatars has grown exponentially over the past year, the move to open source is a natural progression.  After all, Linden has a limited number of developers and there is much work to be done to meet the needs of its growing population and to make the software more palatable for less powerful computers (like most of us have).

Given the growth of SecondLife, the vision my many in the software development community that a 3D web is the shape of things to come, and the success that other projects like Firefox and Linux have had using the community to build the code; this move is smart and should help keep things moving.  It can also lead to some interesting new capabilities:

“There are lots of handicapped people using ‘Second Life,’ It’s one of the really inspiring things about it,” Rosedale said. “There are a lot of ways of connecting people to their computers, not just mice and keyboards but gaze detection and neuromuscular stuff” that Linden Lab doesn’t have the manpower to address, but he hopes outside programmers will.

Someone also could “hook up an exercise bike and fly around ‘Second Life’ while exercising,” he said, or write a program for accessing the world from a smart phone.

“All that becomes extremely easy to do,” said Rosedale, who will speak tomorrow at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The details for the more technical readers out there, according to an AP report are as follows:

The code will be available under the GNU Public License, a widely used agreement among open-source developers that allows them to legally modify and share software. Linden Lab will review and test some add-ons, modifications and bug fixes, and incorporate them into the official version of the viewer, which can be downloaded for free.

Monday’s announcement doesn’t cover all the software behind “Second Life.” The program that controls the underlying infrastructure will remain proprietary, though Rosedale said open-source “is absolutely our direction.”

Fortune has an exclusive interview with Rosedale as well as comments from Electric Sheep, one of the largest in-world construction companies, and IBM who worked with my company, Circuit City, to open a virtual store in SecondLife.  It’s worth the read.

Circuit City Joins The Virtual World

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Circuit City and IBM have teamed up to launch a prototype virtual store in Second Life. The store, which will be open to SL residents on 12/18, is designed to be a virtual extension of Circuit City’s existing multichannel design and will be used as a learning lab.

SecondLife residents can purchase items such as iPods TVs, and Computers in the store for use in SL, but they can can also link to Circuit City’s website to purchase the real world version of the product. There are other extensions of the e-commerce site into virtual space such as forum discussions for particular products, a store locator, and a display that helps you decide what size TV to purchase based on how far back your sofa is.

“Teaming with IBM in the virtual world is as much about sensing and learning from the community as it is about commerce. These immersive environments provide an interactive forum for testing and feedback as we focus on the next generation of customer service”, said Bill McCorey, senior vice president and chief information officer of Circuit City. “Our ultimate goal is to understand the implications of virtual 3-D worlds on multi-channel retailing and to extend the connection we have with our customers to new spaces.”

I think the big thing here is that Circuit City is starting to experiment with 3D web as a commerce channel. I believe this is the future of ecommerce. The combination of an immersive 3D environment with the social networking aspects of an environment like SecondLife will give the customer a rich experience that transcends today’s 2D experience. Granted, we are in the embryonic stages of this transformation and the experience is not “all that”, but at least Circuit City is putting their toe in the water and that’s a step ahead of where most retailers are.

Read more about the launch here and here.

Full Disclosure: I am a Circuit City employee and am part of the SL team.

SecondLife Firms “Not Yet Strong Enough”

In a statement that may qualify him for the”Master of the Obvious” award, Linden Labs marketing director Glenn Fisher told the Le Web 3 conference in Paris this afternoon,

“Most of the brands that have come in have not created a strong enough presence to create a significant business for them at this moment in time,”

Not a big surprise given the lack of understanding that most Real World business have of SecondLife specifically and social networks in general. 

Fisher also provided the group with some stats on business in Second Life:-

  • $7m is exchanged in trade by avatars every month
  • The SL economy is worth $84m
  • Not including land deals, there are $500,000 in monthly purchases
  • There are over 7,000 businesses in-world
  • The average revenue of the top 10 businesses is $25,000
  • The top 100 businesses gross $6,300 on average

(via e-consultancy)

Why Brands Want a Presence in SecondLife

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At a recent ClickZ forum on “Advertising in Social Media”, ElectricArtists CEO Marc Schiller offered his insights on why brands are entering SecondLife.  From ClickZ executive editor Rebecca Leib’s notes:

Second Life is an extension of the concept that social networking is becoming more common.  1 in 8 couples married last year met online.  It is a virtual world where thousands of communities work together in creativity; “it’s about sharing ideas and creating a better world”.  It is NOT in-game advertising, it is primarily a social platform.  1.6 million residents live in the virtual world and the median age is 33, 50/50 male/female and women use it more often then men.  Every piece of content is created by the makers users, Linden Labs only provide the platform and servers.  Users maintain ownership of Intellectual Property, not the software provider, Linden Labs make money by selling space and land.

Why would brands want to join the world?
You get to build a virtual connection with your real audience that makes sense and you’re able to experiment with prototypes and new ideas.  There’s no direct ROI (at least traceable), although it opens up a new channel of communication and deeper connections to the brand audience.  “Aloft” is a virtual Starwood Hotel and is a way to test design, user reactions and offer a virtual client base that can convert into a real world client base.  Scion is to create the first car manufacturer in Second Life, selling theirs cars to other users.  Don’t just do it because your competitors are; don’t do a hit-and-run; re-invent your brand – don’t just copy it.

(image courtesy of Springwise.com)

Dell Sets Up Shop In SecondLife

Dell SL Main Island OK, I lied!!! I said I wouldn’t post anything else about SecondLife this week, but the news keeps coming. Dell announced yesterday that they have set up shop in SecondLife making virtual computers for avatars. They made the announcement in Secondlife, a trend that is becoming pretty common and generally annoying realworld business journalists. From Dell’s press release:

“Innovation has always been at the core of Dell. Innovation coupled with the idea of working directly with its customers has now led Dell to participate in Second Life, one of the hottest, most popular 3-D virtual worlds.”

“Tuesday, November 14, Ro Parra, Dell senior vice president and general manager, Home and Small Business Group, and Philip Rosedale, Linden Lab founder and CEO, gave an exclusive preview of Dell Island in Second Life. Following this invitation-only event the island was open for the public to visit.”

Why is Dell going here? It certainly isn’t to make money from virtual computer sales, but you can buy a real PC on their island and have it shipped to your realworld address. In light of the other announcements this week regarding IBM and Amazon, this is beginning to validate the belief of many (including me) that the future of commerce on the internet is 3D.

More pictures of Dell’s virtual facilities are here.

Second Life Residents Build Stores Around Amazon.com

OK, I promise this is the last post about Second Life  for this week, but since I blogged about this way back in June, I just gotta tell you the news.  Several Second Life residents have set up shops on the world’s most popular retail shopping site, Amazon.com.  They want to use its virtual environment to actually sell physical goods via Amazon.com.

Linden Lab of San Francisco, creator and operator of Second Life, doesn’t track the Amazon goods sold, since Linden doesn’t make money from the sales.  Nevertheless, the extension of Amazon.com’s reach into a place with more than 1.3 million residents has potential for big sales over time, given Second Life’s growth rate.  Since September, the population of the online world has jumped from 735,000 subscribers to more than 1.3 million.  Second Life residents do a total of about $6 million worth of business a month, up from about $2 million a few months ago.

This is an unprecedented linkage between one of the largest online virtual worlds and the world’s largest (physical) online retailer.  Inhabitants of the Second Life online universe will now be looking for real-world money by setting up stores powered by Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN).

I have to imagine that anyone savvy enough to reside virtually in Second Life and build a community in that environment probably already knows about Amazon.com’s role as a real-life provider of goods.  But that’s not what’s at stake here.

Turning a “browser” into a “buyer” requires the right combination of mood and environment — and Second Life inhabitants are by nature more tuned in to this than most.

As for Amazon, the 1.3 million citizens participating in Second Life ain’t no small potatos. That a demographic ripe for mining.  Now whether it becomes a fixture in Second Life will be left up to its members, as they are the ones who will continue to build the revenue-sharing virtual stores and write the scripts needed to integrate with Amazon’s web services for third-party retailers.

Second Life Residents Build Stores Around Amazon.com – News by InformationWeek

A $10 Million Investment In SecondLife from IBM is the Latest Push to Build V-Business

IBM employees in Second Life at a break-out session after a keynote address.
 

I’m not sure if this post is about SecondLife, Innovation, Co-Creation or all of the above.  Read on and you can decide.  This past Summer, IBM conducted the latest in it’s series of “Innovation Jams“.  The “Jam”was conducted online over the course of 72 hours.  During that time, every IBM employee was invited to join in a candid, broad-ranging exploration of enterprise-wide issues, challenges and opportunities.  IBMers were asked to post ideas on specific issues and topics, build upon the ideas of others and rate the ideas that had the greatest potential to transform their company.  Everyone — from the CEO to a college intern fresh off campus — had a say in the matter, and this time, they invited customers to participate. 

IBM pledged to invest $100 million on the best ideas to come out of the Jam.  One of the four markets explored was called “Going Places” and it focused on topics such as travel, transportation, and virtual experiences.  I participated in the discussion and being fascinated with Secondlife, I spent most of my time in this area of the forum.  The discussion around virtual worlds and SecondLife in particular was enthusiastic and there were apparently enough good ideas to convince IBM to put 10% of the kitty into developing a presence in SecondLife.  

Reuters has a story up about IBM’s continued push into Second Life and other virtual worlds: IBM accelerates push into 3D virtual worlds

IBM has embraced Second Life to an extent unmatched by any other major company — it has more than 230 employees spending time in-world, and it owns some half-dozen islands.  Some are open to the public, but most are private, with restricted access for the public.  In the Reuters article, Chairman and Chief Executive Sam Palmisano (photo & Second Life avatar to the right) talks about these efforts:

Big Blue has already established the biggest Second Life presence of any Fortune 500 company. It is also looking to build a 3D intranet where its clients will be able to discuss sensitive business information.”

 According to the article, he will be meeting with “in-world” employees on one of IBM’s private Second Life islands on November 14th after a real world town hall meeting with 7,000 employees in China.

So far in Second Life, IBM has set up a simulation of the Wimbledon tennis tournament, using data that tracks the position of the ball to re-enact points several seconds after they happen.  It has also held virtual events such as an IBM alumni reunion.

IBM has it’s very own “multiverse evangelists”.  IBM created these visionary positions within the company to go out and preach the virtues of virtual worlds to their customers and to the world(s).  These evangelists recently detailed IBM’s Second Life activities in another Reuter’s article:  IBM eyes move into Second Life ‘v-business’

Seeing how they practically coined the word “e-commerce”, you have to think they are serious about this emerging v-business.  Sam Palmisano is quoted in the article as saying,

We always ask the question, ‘if you knew 20 years ago what you know about the Web today, what would you do differently?’” Sandy Kearney, IBM’s director of emerging 3-D Internet and virtual business, told Reuters in a Second Life interview.

The Web took decades. This will likely take half that time.

Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Vice President, Technical Strategy and Innovation, IBM Corporation wrote about IBM’s efforts in virtual space in his blog with:

Transforming Business through Virtual Worlds Capabilities – it’s Déjà Vu All Over Again

In his blog article, Irving Wladawsky-Berger writes,

About two years ago, a study conducted by the IBM Academy of Technology concluded that technologies and capabilities from the gaming world would have a very strong impact on all aspects of IT, and made a number of recommendations for follow-on activities, which we have proceeded to implement.” 

Irving goes into great detail in his blog about how IBM is entering virtual space, and what they are finding out about doing business in virtual space.  It’s well worth the read!

The one thing that has always defined IBM is that they are pretty good at being the middleman, the broker between disparate systems.  If you are an IT Director, and you have a mix of hardware and software systems, IBM can come in and help you to get it all working and talking together.  There’s a very revealing quote in the latest Reuters article on 3D virtual worlds, and I truly think this exposes the (virtual) space where IBM wants to dominate:

A spokesman for IBM said its goals go far beyond Second Life, although it currently has its largest virtual world presence there, and that the company eventually wants to see all multiverses integrated into a seamless whole.

That seems to be the core strategy with IBM and v-business, to be the glue for all of the virtual worlds that may emerge.  We will never have a single all encompassing virtual world controlled by a single corporation, it’s just not going to happen, and it’s never happened in the past with any other technology.  Do you think that maybe a few IBM employees have a copy of Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash on their office bookshelves.  Can you say “Metaverse”?  Hardware is dead; look at the sell off of IBM’s flagship ThinkPad division to China.  This is the future direction for IBM, and an extension of what they already do very well.

Irving closes out his blog entry with this observation: 

So, here we are in 2006, once more facing a set of fledgling technologies and capabilities — massively multiplayer online games and virtual worlds – that are already being used by many millions out there.  Once more we have the very strong feeling that this will have a huge impact on business, society and our personal lives, although none of us can quite predict what that impact will be.  It will be fascinating to see where this ride takes us in the future.”

Fascinating Indeed! 

Credit where credit is due:  Parts of this post were taken from a fellow WordPress blogger here: http://pacificrimx.wordpress.com/2006/11/11/ibm-cool/

Second Life is Not Over-hyped…

David Kirkpatrick, Senior editor for Fortune, says that Second Life is not over-hyped: it’s a preview of the future of the Internet.

“That’s because what it really may represent is an alternative vision for how to interact with information and communicate over the Internet….Looking at Second Life makes me realize just how much the Web, wonderful and useful as it is, still mimics a print model.”

This May Be the Future of the Web.
I’ve been evangelizing for a while now that SecondLife offers a great platform for innovation, but I also think Kirkpatrick is on the mark when he says that the Internet of the future is more likely to look like Second Life’s 3D metaverse (my avatar: Horace McFly) where people can interact in real time, than it is to remain the one-dimensional, text-based world we’re used to.  Most of my business colleagues don’t share my enthusiasm for the medium.  They think it is a game where people who have way too much free time waste as much as they can, but as Kirkpartrick (avatar: David Liveoak) explains very well, it really is all about business. 

“We are all lathered up about the success of News Corp.’s (Charts) MySpace. But the social networks of the future will probably be much more than merely a bunch of Web-site-like collections of data, as MySpace is today. MySpace beat Friendster, the previous champion social networking site, by allowing its members much more freedom in how they created their pages.”

“Second Life goes much further. It took a radical approach to design from the beginning. It offered itself as a mere platform for the creations of its occupants. Essentially everything seen inside the software today was created by its users.”

Whether Linden Labs will be able to overcome Second Life’s shortcomings of requiring a software download that corporate servers prohibit, and requiring a level of geekiness way beyond that of most execs, remains to be seen.  But one 3D world or another is likely to achieve the scale of Google or MySpace in the Internet’s not too distant future.  My bet is that it’ll happen within five years.

You Too Can Be A Virtual Couch Potato

OK Folks, this is either going to be good a reason to get into SecondLife, OR a sure sign that we have run out of interesting things to see there, leaving us with nothing to do but set on our virtual couch in our virtual house eating our virtual popcorn and drinking our virtual beer while watching our virtual TV that we got at the virtual Circuit City.

Reporting on an article at MediaGuardian.co.ukPSFK  recently posted…

Channel 4  (BBC?) and the Sci-Fi channel are to start syndicating their content to to Second Life’s first broadband TV network which is due to launch at the end of November 06.

SL techies Rivers Run Red has partnered with 10 content companies to provide material for TV channels on virtuallife.tv.

By the end of 2007, the company aims to have more than 100 specialist channels streaming a mix of branded content and original programming 24 hours a day.

Will the original content be good enough to drive significantly more people to become SL residents, much like the way HBO drove growth in the cable industry in it’s early days?

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