Research firm Gartner predicts about 80 percent of all active Internet users will have a virtual life by the end of 2011:
Gartner analysts are examining the hype and reality around virtual worlds during Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2007: Emerging Trends, being held here through April 26. Gartner's advice to enterprise clients is that this is a trend that they should investigate and experiment with, but limit substantial financial investments until the environments stabilize and mature.
"The collaborative and community-related aspects of these environments will dominate in the future, and significant transaction-based commercial opportunities will be limited to niche areas, which have yet to be clearly identified," said Steve Prentice, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. "However, the majority of active Internet users and major enterprises will find value in participating in this area in the coming years."
Meaningful corporate use of public virtual worlds/platforms will lag considerably behind individual consumer use as enterprises struggle to develop appropriate and relevant business models. As enterprise try to define their role in the virtual world, Gartner has identified five laws for companies participating in the virtual world.