Although Second Life's registered population tops out at 2.6 million users, regular players (those who log on everyday) only represent 10 per cent of the total. Nevertheless, these residents have created a thriving virtual economy in which about $US650,000 is spent per day. With that figure in mind, it's with little surprise that uber companies such as Toyota, Nike, Sony BMG and Adidas, to name a few, have jumped aboard the Second Life ship.
But making the transition from selling real life goods in real life to selling real life goods in a virtual environment brings a whole new set of challenges, said Holloway.
"Selling virtual content is easy; the real challenge lies in creating new and innovative business strategies that bridge the divide between reality and virtual reality. For example, Toyota has been quite successful with the release of its new Scion for virtual test drives in the Second Life world, which has apparently led to click through queries for them," he said.
But more importantly, Holloway said companies have to be aware of the impact their branding will have on the Second Life community as a whole.
"Any company that enters Second life will have to tread carefully because there is a natural aversion to corporations coming in and flooding participants with marketing junk. Plastering advertisements throughout the world will only be met with angst," he said.
But once companies pass the hurdles of Second Life's community needs, Holloway says, establishing an online presence is easy, especially if you're a large multinational with money to spare. On the other hand, for smaller businesses, in particular Australian ones, the key for success and recognition is community.
"What's needed for business to thrive in Second Life is community," he said. "There's a lot of potential for Australian businesses, granted they come together to create a collective Australian community. And with the ABC and AFTRS on board, it looks like we're heading in the right direction."