Well Lenovo, the PC manufacturer who took over the IBM laptop business, have created a 3D virtual shop where you can ‘go in’ and browse their laptop range, walk up to and communicate with sales assistents, take a friend in with you, and so on. All you need to do is go to their ‘elounge’ website, download a plug-in, learn a few basic commands and off you go.
There are a number of people I’ve spoken to that say they would never use such a system, but my view is that if the whole idea of 3D virtual worlds loses some of its clunkiness, and sites like Amazon or Ebay were just using the technology, then people would just use it, just because that’s the way things are.
People didn’t conciously choose to use the web to get to Amazon or Ebay, these companies just used the default technology available, and made it as painless as possible for consumers to use the sites. If they decided that 3D virtual worlds was the way to go, because it was a differentiator, enabled more sales or for whatever other reason, and the technology was mature enough to enable them to make it painless for consumers, then people would probably just get in and use it. I am always amazed at how popular the cartoony virtual world games, like YoVille and FarmVille, are on Facebook.
The issue right now as I see things, is that the technology isn’t quite there yet. Well, maybe experiments like the Lenovo eLounge are starting to lay the groundwork for the tech to catch up.