Mar 30

The trouble with virtual brokers

Posted by awolfe :: Emerging Business Models

2nd_life_cb_03 Anybody who has ever tried to rent an apartment in New York City knows that brokers are quite comfortable with virtual reality. Craigslist is full of ads for apartments that simply do not exist in the real world.  But Coldwell Banker is taking virtual real estate to the next level.


The press release reads:

"PARSIPPANY, N.J. (March 23, 2007) – With the 3-D virtual world of Second Life® having become an online phenomenon, Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corporation today announced that it is the first national real estate company to sell homes within the community. Offering houses in a variety of architectural styles and the ability to tour neighborhoods with a real estate professional, Coldwell Banker® is reinforcing its mission to ensure that everyone can achieve the dream of homeownership, whether on Main Street or in the metaverse…"

I don’t think that this is a real money-making endeavor for Coldwell, but really a promotion for the firm.

While the upsides of a promo like this are obvious (interactivity and qualified lead generation), Terra Nova raises some very good points as to the potential dangers from such an immersive ad campaign. 

"[I]f Coldwell's virtual agents provide bad advice to Second Life home buyers, this marketing effort might backfire."

Terra Nova visted the Coldwell in Second Life, and found only a cute dog.  Cute dogs are good, but even virtual businesses need real people manning the shop if they are going to be effective.  If Coldwell wants its Second Life operation to be a demonstration of what it can do in the real world, it might need to pour more resources into the virtual realm.

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Wii have a problem in the UK

Mar 29 Posted by awolfe :: Advertising in Video Games

Link When Sony ran into problems for its controversial ads for the PSP, I kind of, sort of, understood what the problem was. Race is probably not the best way to advertise the coming power of a white PSP, and even though I didn’t think Sony or TBWA, the ad firm behind the campaign, were intentionally being controversial, I could understand the controversy.

Nintendo is now running into a similar problem in the UK, only this time it is much, much more stoopider.

Seventeen people have complained about the violence shown in a Wii commericial that is currently airing there. The ad goes so far as to show Link using his sword in the new Zelda game.

The complainers say the cartoon Link and his cartoon sword are too close to the violence in Iraq to be shown on TV.


I very much hope this blows over and does not become the media sensation that the PSP ad controversy became. If not, well we’ll all be stoopider because of it.

PS3 to Cure Cancer

Mar 16 Posted by awolfe :: Emerging Business Models

PackschThe PS3 is the most powerful console ever.  Some might say too powerful. This begs the question, “What to do with all that excess power?” 

“Cure Parkinson’s disease,” Sony said. 

Yesterday Sony announced that a software update will allow users to devote their console’s idle time to a Stanford University project that is searching for cures to cancer, Alzheimer's, Huntington's, and mad cow disease.  The processors in the Playstation3 are about ten times faster than those in the average desktop computer, and this could be a big boon to researchers’ simulations.  Users will be able to join the “folding@home network” starting in March. 

Technologically, this will work like the distributed computing schemes that have searched for alien life, modeled climate change, and a vaccine for Avian Flu.  Sony and Stanford were discussing the project long before the PS3 was released, and I’m glad to see the partnership has come to fruition. 

Last year was the year of the console war.  This year looks to be the year of the online gaming platform war.  Nintendo can deliver AP news on a really cool map, but Sony can cure cancer.  What do you got Microsoft?  The meaning of life?