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BizReport : Trends & Ideas archives : January 08, 2007

IBM Optimistic About Virtual Worlds

After a 10 year absence, IBM makes a comeback in Las Vegas show.

by Helen Leggatt

For the first time in a decade IBM will have a huge presence at the Consumer Electronics Show being held in Las Vegas this week.

Despite recent skepticism on the accuracy of virtual world user numbers and the future of the medium, one of IBM’s four exhibits is dedicated to virtual worlds and 3D internet, an area that IBM set up an internal group to focus on last year. The exhibit promotes the possibilities for business growth and efficiency in virtual worlds, including viewing IBM's own presence in Second Life (SL).

As if to underline their commitment to SL and virtual communities, IBM announced they will be building Sears a virtual showroom located on IBM’s SL island. The showroom will allow Sears’ customers to visualize real world products set within 3D models of their own homes. IBM are also working on SL projects for other clients but these have not yet been announced.

"What we're trying to do is help businesses bridge the virtual and the real worlds to benefit their customers," said Michael Rowe, senior project manager for virtual worlds and 3D Internet.

The possibilities that are emerging for doing business in virtual worlds are intriguing. However, with the technology still in its infancy it remains to be seen as to whether Second Life can survive the griefings, grey goo, bots and virtual crime and become the next online frontier.

Tags: IBM, Sears, Second Life, virtual world

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