Virtual Retail: Linden Labs Buys Virtual Retailers

Originally Published 2009

By Gary L. Cole AIA, Esq.

As reported in the January 21, 2009 edition of the San Francisco Business Times, Second Life owner Linden Labs has just purchased two Second Life apparel retailers.

To translate that from virtual-speak to real world retail-speak: A real world company (Linden Labs), that leases Second Life virtual space (in the form of computer memory), to tenants who then build 3D virtual stores there (existing only in computer memory) and who sell online 3D virtual apparel to online 3D virtual representations of real-world people (avatars), for the virtual equivalents of real money (Linden Dollars) – just purchased two retail businesses, though the currency type and purchase prices are unknown.

Second life is a Metaverse, not an online game like the well-known World of Warcraft. Second Life isn’t played – it’s a place where Residents as avatars interact with other Resident avatars in a fully fleshed out 3D environment. Residents can walk, run, fly, drive cars – shop – and even teleport to different places in Second Life. From Second Life’s home page: “Second Life is an online 3D virtual world imagined and created by its Residents.” Real world companies, retailers, professionals, educational institutions, and religious organizations have established presences in Second Life. Anglicans have purchased a virtual island to construct a virtual Gothic cathedral; there’s a Second Life Israel and Muslims can now visit a virtual Hajj. The Maldives, Sweden, Columbia, Estonia and other countries have established embassies in Second Life.

With the U.S. and now European recessions in full swing, real world retail development has all but stalled. But the name of the game in retail is foot traffic – how long before retailers look beyond bricks and mortar stores to the virtual world for virtual customers spending real dollars?

© Copyright Gary L. Cole 2009

Comments are closed.