Not Much Life in China's Virtual Worlds

Chinese entrepreneurs' answers to Second Life are early stage, but they see potential for brand-building, worker training, and e-commerce
Three software companies have set up Chinese versions of Second Life: HiPiHi, NovoKing, and UOneNet, inking partnerships with IBM, Intel, and HP. HiPiHi

Last November, Procter & Gamble's (PG) Vidal Sassoon launched with much fanfare its first hair salon in China's virtual world. There was even a virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony. But today the VS salon in HiPiHi, China's oldest and largest virtual world (a simulated online environment where users adopt identities known as avatars), sits mostly empty save for the occasional visitor. "It's a bit like the real world but not as many people," says an avatar named Yi Feichen, who recently logged on to HiPiHi for the first time and then visited the VS salon. "This world feels like it has been destroyed before."

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