Second Life Has Trouble Getting Second Looks

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We've blogged before about the Internet's tendency to shorten attention spans, with many experts noting that folks reared on video games and the Internet absorb information in ways dramatically different from people who grew up without such digital distractions.


These so-called "digital natives" present an especially keen challenge to the advertising industry, which is trying to reach them by flooding YouTube with adverts and otherwise invading their digital turf.


So perhaps it's not too surprising that the trend of companies creating "islands" and other promotional outposts in the online Second Life community appears to be ending before it ever really caught on, notes Tech Digest blogger Stuart Dredge.


Dredge links to a Los Angeles Times article that mentions largely empty Second Life storefronts for Best Buy, Dell and American Apparel, among other companies.


Dredge obviously shares our cynical streak, as he speculates that lots of companies may have been more interested in garnering quick hits of media attention than in long-term marketing strategies with their forays into Second Life.


Companies aren't the only ones with a waning interest in Second Life. According to the LA Times article, the population of active avatars declined by 2.5 percent between May and June, and the volume of U.S. money changing hands in the virtual world also is falling.


And just as social networking site MySpace faces competition from Facebook and scores of others, the LA Times article says companies are exploring other virtual universes. Interestingly, IBM, which has been one of Second Life's biggest boosters, is now one of those looking at other environments, including There and Entropia Universe.


The LA Times article also notes that Sun, another prominent proponent of Second Life, recently had no upcoming events on its virtual schedule.


Yet companies don't appear ready to completely write off Second Life's possible business uses. Cisco, for instance, uses Second Life for meetings, customer education and training. The networking giant is also a member of the Second Life Business Council, a group of enterprises that use Second Life for business purposes.