There doesn't seem to be much rhyme or reason why there are more Germans in Second Life than Americans even though there are more American firms advertising inside the virtual world. Could it be down to better broadband in Germany? For now we'll have to ponder the results of a new Comscore study which finds that Second Life has a rapidly growing and global base of active residents.
The report found that about 1.3 million people ran the official software and logged-in to Second Life in March 2007, an increase of 46 percent in the number of active residents from January 2007.
On the face of it this sounds like rapid growth, but while the report found that only 207,000 people in the United States logged on to Second Life at least once in March, 'at least once' means they may never have come back – we just don't know.
At any rate, Second Life appears to hotter in Europe right now. In March, 61 percent of active Second Life residents were from Europe, compared to 19 percent from North America, and 13 percent from the Asia Pacific region. Perhaps predictably, 61 percent of residents were male while 39 percent were female.
In fact there are 209,000 Germans – 2,000 more than the US – inside Second Life. The UK is on 6 per cent, or 72,000.
This starts to get interesting when you realise that many of the businesses trumpeting a presence in Second Life are actually US-based: IBM, CNet, Reuters, American Apparel, Coldwell Banker etc. Where are all the German brands?
TechCrunch is unimpressed with these figures and compares them with the billions of pages and unique users experienced by MySpace users – for example – every day.
And it's also worth remembering what social software professor Clay Shirky wrote back in December last year:
"Second Life may be wrought by its more active users into something good, but right now the deck is stacked against it, because the perceptions of great user growth and great value from scarcity are mutually reinforcing but built on sand. Were the press to shift to reporting Recently Logged In as their best approximation of the population, the number of reported users would shrink by an order of magnitude; were they to adopt industry-standard unique users reporting (assuming they could get those numbers), the reported population would probably drop by two orders… There’s nothing wrong with a service that appeals to tens of thousands of people, but in a billion-person internet, that population is also a rounding error. If most of the people who try Second Life bail (and they do), we should adopt a considerably more skeptical attitude about proclamations that the oft-delayed Virtual Worlds revolution has now arrived."