We keep hearing about Second Life. What is it and how could it make money for us?
Second Life is an online 3-D virtual world entirely created by its Residents. It opened in 2003 and it has 12 million registered users worldwide of which 3 to 4 million are active.
To visit and explore Second Life there are no costs, sign up for a basic membership—create a name and pick your ‘Avatar’ a graphical representation of yourself, only younger, slimmer and taller!
How does it make money?
Second Life has its own currency, Linden Dollars, which can be exchanged within the virtual world and also extracted into the real world.
Companies are selling virtual items to furnish virtual buildings and so far, the main ways to generate revenue from virtual worlds are
- Events and conferencing—reaching wider audiences.
- Brand promotion and PR— a well known sports brand sold 23,000 virtual trainers.
- Fund raising—Relay for Life exists and enables fund raisers to move into a new dimension.
- Tourism—promoting the place and things to do before visitors arrive.
The real business opportunity may be saving time. There is the possiblity to save time with concept and product testing where you can invite a group of people to look at an idea, comment and generate feedback.
An American hotel chain built a new hotel in Second Life to see how it worked, based on feedback from virtual visitors they adapted their real life model.
Collaboration seems to be taking place online where groups can come together regardless of location. Ideal for sales teams in different locations discussing new product development. The 3D factor is said to work better than standard audio conferencing.
The jury is still out as far as we’re concerned. It seems to eat up loads of time and I haven’t yet seen how it’s useful – perhaps some experienced Second Lifers could let us know?