In the past year, dozens of companies have bought land, launched businesses and started marketing campaigns in Second Life, including IBM, Dell, CBS, NBC and Toyota.
Metaversatility has already landed some big clients. Last month, the company designed key elements of Advanced Micro Devices' Developers Central Pavilion in Second Life. AMD plans to use the space for meetings, lectures and networking opportunities.
Corporations are now choosing the virtual world of Second Life for meetings, as opposed to the old standby conference call. The mind boggles. This is so close to the science fictional holographic gathering that I have to wonder how far off that leap in technology may actually be. Of course, it takes the virtual gathering a step beyond the simple popular culture view by introducing the entire avatar element. No matter how widespread this practice becomes, I have a hard time envisioning a corporation like, say, IBM gathering in a Second Life boardroom with a Sleestack knockoff debating long-term quantum computing viability with a scantily-clad Warrior Princess.
Six months ago, International Business Machines Corp. launched a business devoted to designing business applications for the virtual world. IBM recently designed spaces in Second Life for Sears and Circuit City, and it is working with more than 250 customers, said Sandy Kearney, program director for IBM's 3-D Internet and virtual business.
The virtual world offers lots of opportunities for media and entertainment, financial services, government and retail companies, Kearney said. For many companies, their virtual world plans are in the strategic early stages.
But maybe that's the appeal. Do button-down dress codes apply in Second Life? I know the virtual society has its own evolving etiquette, but how long before corporations begin issuing guidelines and dress codes for employees' online avatars? The obvious parallels to The Matrix notwithstanding, I find it fascinating to watch how an intangible virtual world is developing such a tangible presence in the real world.