Second Life is more advanced than you think. Business applications will already need to focus on strategic rather than technical knowledge.
Making money in Second Life (part 3): The sure thing
Now is an excellent time for individuals with Second Life knowledge to form their own small businesses, or for companies who see Second Life as important to begin recruiting such knowledge workers.
In my last two posts, I wrote about Second Life business opportunities in the long term. I described the profile of virtual companies as well as the challenges and opportunities for real-life companies “as communicators” in Second Life. But wouldn’t it be nice if there were a sure-fire success? Well, for some, it’s there right now.
Just as in the early days of the web, Second Life knowledge is needed by many, but lies in the hands of a few. Those few companies and individuals are what I call “catalyst” companies because their knowledge is the key to helping larger companies experiment and “land safely” in Second Life. For catalyst companies, there is a ready flow of cash available right now in the form of development contracts, consulting, building, and strategic assistance.
When you read about Second Life brand presence, you’ll see a focus on early-adopter brands like Pontiac, MTV, Telstra, and the ABC. However, those companies are relying on a few small, bright and stealthy entities to achieve their goals. The most notable world-wide leaders are The Electric Sheep Company, Rivers Run Red, and Millions of Us.
Electric Sheep, founded in April 2005, was probably the first to see the emerging development market. If you visit the Second Life Developer’s Registry, you’ll find a lot more, most of them smaller companies. The overall profile of these companies looks very familiar. Think about the web in 1997.
Things are just getting started in Australia. Gary Hayes is Australia’s pioneer in the field, having created Second Life builds like Telstra’s Islands and the ABC Islands. Companies like The Project Factory (where Gary is now head of multi-user virtual environments [MUVE] development) and Cattle Puppy (a joint venture I am involved with) are just the beginning.
The market outlook for virtual worlds consulting will be growing consistently and rapidly over the next year as more and more corporations listen to the words of analysts like Gartner, which predicts that virtual worlds will become an essential part of online life within the next four years.
For most Australian Second Life users, none of this is news. Names like Electric Sheep are well-known among virtual world residents. But, if you’re new to the game in Australia, it might be good to read the recent report, “Business in Second Life: An Introduction” by Smart Internet Technology CRC. It gives an excellent introduction to Second Life itself with a focus on development companies and initiatives in Australia.
To be honest, creating buildings and islands in Second Life is not hard. It won’t be long before many corporations simply start to “do it themselves”, and this will happen more rapidly than it did with the web.
Unlike the early web, Second Life is surprisingly evolved and the building capabilities are designed to be used by people with average technical knowledge. The challenge for development companies is to maintain growth by focusing on their strategic rather than technical knowledge.
I’m almost tempted to promise another blog, titled: “Part 4: The conclusion”. But, that’s where you come in.
To get started making money from virtual worlds, you first have to decide on your goals. Does having a cottage industry designing virtual products interest you? Do you have design and multi-media skills that you can turn into a profitable virtual worlds consulting business? Or, are you a visionary that sees the major cultural impact that “being there” in virtual worlds will have on your customers and products?
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Whatever your answer, the opportunity is there.
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