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There’s growing interest around what’s begin called the "3D Internet". Second Life has grabbed many of the headlines, though there are others such as Habbo Hotel. Some would say the whole area has been hyped –  there are 4.4M Secondlife users, not that many when you consider MySpace has 160M, and there are skeptics about the business model too. However, growth predictions are high and there are some interesting trends emerging from a business perspective.

IBM appears to be embracing the area, as recently reported by David Kirkpatrick of Fortune Magazine. He says:

By early January more than 3,000 IBM employees had acquired their own
avatars, and about 300 were routinely conducting company business
inside Second Life.

This sounds different to corporate intranets where conducting business behind the firewall is very much akin to conducting business in the safety of a company’s office. Here IBM is in effect operating in the leased office of someone else and holding meetings just for employees in SecondLife.

What you get with these worlds that something like a Web Meeting lacks is a sense of ‘being there’, including that feeling that hundreds or thousands of your colleagues are sharing the experience. This can be valuable for reinforcing a sense of company identity. Up to now, 3D technology has been too expensive for most companies to consider as  an internal communications channel, but could this be the start of a cost-effective extension to corporate intranets?

[Thanks to Paul, Angela and William from the IBF team for some useful leads].

About the author

Nancy Goebel - DWG's Managing Director for Member & Benchmarking ServicesNancy Goebel is DWG’s Managing Director for Member Services. In addition to heading up service delivery, she is responsible for member engagement, retention and growth. Nancy also sits on DWG’s Board of Directors.

Prior to joining the Digital Workplace Group, Nancy was a accomplished executive at JPMorgan Chase where she built and led a global team in desigining and implementing an award-winning intranet. She also led digital enablement and business re-engineering initiatives.

Outside work, Nancy is a wine maker, fundraiser, meditator, wife and mother of two.

Connect with Nancy on Twitter: @nancyatdwg or on Google +.


  1. Here’s just some statistics for you to understand the scope of the Habbo community (because as you say, it hasn’t been in the headlines yet) – I’m commenting from Sulake, which is the company behind Habbo:
    – you can use Habbo to the full currently in 29 countries
    – the number of created Habbo avatars is over 74 million (compare to SL’s 4,4 million)
    – over 7,5 millio unique visitors go to Habbo every month (Nielsen Netratings)
    – Sulake, the company behind Habbo, has an efficient business model (micropayments + advertising)

  2. Just for clarification, I’m not a skeptic of a virtual world business model and I’m actually quite bullish on microtransactions as a viable business model. I’m just skeptical of the Second Life platform maintaining its early leadership position given all of the other platforms that are about to launch that have better user experiences.

  3. Zukunft: 3D-Internet

    Die nchste technologische Revolution im Internet kndigt sich an: dreidimensionale Welten, deren bentigte Software schon im Browser integriert ist. Ansgar Schmidt, Diplominformatiker bei IBM glaubt an einen neuen Umbruch im Internet: I…

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