Second Life

The Economist writes about a virtual world:

Second Life…is not a game. Admittedly, some residentsthere were 747,263 as of late September, and the number is growing by about 20% every monthare there just for fun. They fly over islands, meander through castles and gawk at dragons. But increasing numbers use Second Life for things that are quite serious. They form support groups for cancer survivors. They rehearse responses to earthquakes and terrorist attacks. They build Buddhist retreats and meditate.

By emphasising creativity and communication, Second Life is different from other synthetic online worlds.

Social Networking Sites Expansion

Knowledge@Wharton writes about the downside:

Wharton experts note that expansion is a bigger issue for social networking sites than for other businesses, which don’t rely as heavily on user input. “Businesses based on community can become fragmented so much that they splinter off the people who were attracted to them in the first place,” says Bell.

While social networking sites wrestle with the expansion dilemma, Bell argues that the marketing problem these firms face is similar to the issues faced by other companies trying to segment a market. For instance, if Toyota’s Scion unit initially targets younger buyers, the cars could lose their cachet if Baby Boomers start buying them.

Mobile Buzz

Chetan Sharma summarises findings from a couple of mobile trade shows in the US recently:

MES and MECCA. The central theme from both the shows was community and advertising. The buzz shifted from Mobile Search, Mobile TV, and IMS during the last couple of shows to Mobile Advertising. The prospective lifecycle of product development goes like this build community (whether it is around user generated content, games, artists, bands or other) and monetize the community by advertising. The permutation and combination of the business models are: free application and/or free content, subscription, earn credits for watching ads, more credits for feedback/surveys, etc. Companies who are able to build a large mobile community (at least 5-10M active users) and gather some specific demographic data become hot property of the moment. It is important to note that the mindset for an exit strategy for companies in the social media and user generated content space has changed a bit. Instead of getting acquired by software or computing companies like Google and Yahoo (yes, yes, they are media companies as well) to traditional Media companies like FOX and HBO. This was quite apparent in a number of discussions I had with the executives from new media content companies.