Towards a Theoretically-Grounded Framework for Evaluating Immersive Business Models and Applications: Analysis of Ventures in Second Life

Henry M. Kim, Kelly Lyons, Mary Ann Cunningham


Second Life has emerged as the de facto virtual world for immersive business. However there is no de facto guideline or even corpus of knowledge about how to build an immersive business. We address this opportunity by presenting work that will lead to a theoretically-grounded evaluative framework for immersive business models and applications. We identify high profile examples from Second Life and analyze them using two theories that explain why a user may choose between ‘clicks,’ ‘bricks,’ or immersive: Rich Media Theory and Task Closure Theory. We then state propositions about characteristics of successful immersive business models and applications, and conduct an exploratory study of proposed Second Life business plans to identify and support the most appropriate propositions for future empirical enquiry. Finally, we conclude our study by positing the following characteristics of potentially successful immersive business models and applications: (a) feedback and interactions between users are not dissipated, (b) productive tasks can be started and closed within the virtual world, and (c) users are compelled to form a social presence, which is then leveraged.


virtual worlds, immersive business, Second Life, Media Richness Theory, Task Closure Theory

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