Gartner, Inc. just came out with a study showing that 90% of business ventures into virtual worlds -- such as Second Life --fail with in 18 months. That means the get-rich-quick scheme of selling imaginary goods for imaginary Linden Dollars (L$) to convert back to real dollars (the current exchange rate is about $1 to 265 L$) may not work out so well after all.

As if regular business stories weren't tedious enough, the media love to cover stories about business in the fake world. American Apparel and Armani have Second Life stores. Someone set up a fake Apple store--one that seems to be missing its characteristic long lines of disillusioned Apple acolytes at the genius bar. The government of Sweden is one of many countries with an embassy. (I wonder if that's the kind of lame perk that could be offered to all the e-volunteers in this presidential election.) eHow has a how to primer on how to start your business in the other world. And, of course, Second Life encourages that kind of entrepreneurship.

According to Gartner, the enterprises usually fail because companies did them just to be cool. And they never figured out what the objective was supposed to be. How do they know they're failures then? My guess is the old-fashioned real world method: they lost money. Gartner says it takes $5,000 to $50,000 (L$1.3 to L$13 million) to set up a Second Life store. That's a whole lot of avatar clothes to sell.

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