Aili McConnon and Reena Jana
Companies are increasingly creating customized virtual worlds and bypassing Second Life, aiming for more security against hackers and increased flexibility in terms of designing a branded environment for customers. Second Life shows no signs of fading away any time soon -- in fact, the number of corporations in the online parallel universe has risen to about 50, and the number of Second Life residents has grown nearly seven-fold to nearly 7 million in less than a year. But because Second Life is open to anyone who wants to open an account and create an avatar or digital versions of products, it is vulnerable to unplanned cyber-jacking of corporate events. Many companies want to avoid the intruders who can turn up in virtual meetings within Second Life and, among other concerns, diminish competition with other brands for consumers’ attention.
Now a growing crop of software makers is targeting corporate clients who might be interested in using virtual worlds to conduct remote conferences among avatars or to launch stand-alone, online, parallel universes in which to promote their products. Here’s a sample of seven alternatives to Second Life -- complete with video clips to introduce you to the latest virtual worlds best suited for sales training, meetings, brand-promotion, and other business needs:
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