Eighty percent of businesses will have a presence in a virtual world, says a new Gartner report that otherwise heaps suspicion on the value of Second Life e-commerce.

The tech research firm advises businesses to "limit substantial financial investments until the environments stabilise and mature".

Giants like Toyota and Adidas, as well as smaller enterprises, have all opened storefronts in Second Life in recent months as hype surrounding the 3D environment and its potential for e-commerce and marketing reached fever pitch.

Gartner said the majority of internet users and Fortune 500 companies would be inside such worlds by 2011, but analyst Steve Prentice advised caution before frippery.

"The collaborative and community-related aspects of these environments will dominate in the future, and significant transaction-based commercial opportunities will be limited to niche areas, which have yet to be clearly identified," he said.

"Meaningful corporate use of public virtual worlds/platforms will lag considerably behind individual consumer use as enterprises struggle to develop appropriate and relevant business models."

Prentice laid down "five laws" for those companies considering emerging into worlds like Second Life:

  1. Virtual worlds are not games.
  2. Behind every avatar is a real person.
  3. Be relevant and add value.
  4. Understand and contain the downside.
  5. This is a long haul.

Published 26 April, 2007 by Robert Andrews

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Comments (4)


Shel Holtz

For what it's worth, Coca-Cola has not opened a storefront in Second Life. The company I work for, crayon, helped Coca-Cola into Second Life, and specifically advised against a storefront approach. There's plenty of material online that details what Coca-Cola did, but in a nutshell, it's a design competition among SL residents. There is no e-commerce aspect to it whatsoever. I thought it worthwhile to point that out in the interest of accuracy.

about 11 years ago


Richard Maven, Writer at Econsultancy

Thanks Shel. I've made the change.

about 11 years ago


Tony de Vizio, Director at DYNAMIS PLC

I cannot agree more with this article. We too are experimenting with Second Life and have launched 2 completely free philanthropic areas. The first is "Odyssey" which seeks to encourage art in SL (We truly believe the next wave of artist genre will use virtual worlds) and the second is “Business Exchange” encouraging SL entrepreneurs to talk to one another. Commercial gain to us is none but as you say we are in it for the long haul and to provide value.

about 11 years ago


Brian temple

"but in a nutshell, it's a design competition among SL residents. There is no e-commerce aspect to it whatsoever" is rather a broad statement and not totally true.
I created an online prescence in Second Life to promote my website and it was a worthwhile venture, covering the cost of setting up easily.
Our approach was different as we already had an established internet website selling lingerie, so rather than make from scratch we asked for and obtained permission to make virtual versions of the items we sell.
Ok you shout, Playboy and others already did that! Yes but they failed to use the talents available preferring to do everything themselves.
We sourced the best builders, designers and digital artists to get to where we are and in doing so we believe we helped in a small way to fire the enthisiasm of those talented individuals (and paid them too!)....
I know of many friends and associates within SL who make a living doing this so the "no way, whatsoever" comment is a little wide of the mark.

over 9 years ago

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