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12/11/2006

IBM's real $10 million for virtual worlds

That IBM is taking seeing all sorts of business opportunities in Second Life and metaverses is worthy of note.

It's $10 million investment commitment next year is not part of the "brand-rush" of companies looking to attach their brands to the virtual glitz of Second Life, it's a business, R&D driven move:

The company’s move into virtual worlds is due in large part to the efforts of its “multiverse evangelists,” Ian Hughes (Epredator Potato) and Roo Reynolds (Algernon Spackler in-world), who said last month that IBM wanted to make “v-business” a priority just as it championed “e-business” during the dot-com boom.

“We always ask the question, ‘if you knew 20 years ago what you know about the Web today, what would you do differently?’” Sandy Kearney, IBM’s director of emerging 3-D Internet and virtual business, told Reuters in a Second Life interview. “The Web took decades. This will likely take half that time.”

For more on IBM's thinking take a look at one of the company's most senior bloggers, Irving Wladawsky-Berger, the company's Vice President of Technical Strategy and Innovation. In a post about the recent announcemntm Mr Wladawsky-Berger makes it clear IBM sees Second Life and related online worlds as a the next big platform for IT:

I believe that using such virtual, highly visual capabilities to help us design, simulate, optimize, operate and manage business activities of all sorts is going to be one of the most important breakthroughs in the IT industry over the next decade.  Today's commercial applications, especially those involved in enterprise resource planning (ERP), are very complicated, monolithic and static, and often end up frustrating their users.  I am convinced that dealing with such business applications in a kind of SimBusiness fashion, - that is, the application feels like a realistic simulation of the business and its operations, - will not only transform IT but business itself.  Perhaps for the first time, we will be able to understand what is really going on in a business and its various processes, and then systematically improve and optimize them in multiple dimensions.

As Yogi Berra might have said, this feels like deja vu all over again.  When we started our Internet efforts in IBM about ten years ago, the Internet was already being used by millions around the world, and we had a very strong sense that it was going to have a huge impact on businesses and institutions of all sorts, but we honestly were not quite sure what that impact would be. 

Story via Reuters.

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Comments

Yeah, this was big news when it came out and has me wondering whether or not it will affect Linden Lab's commitment to open source SecondLife. That's one aspect. The other aspect is whether or not it will directly affect the SL economy (http://www.knowprose.com/node/16612 ).

More rainbows to be chased. $10m is peanuts if the world can be persuaded to upgrade their kit to real-time graphic simulation of everything.

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