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Second Life, and Maybe a Third or Fourth

Following the success of Second Life as a virtual destination for millions, many big name companies including Sony (SNE) and Lego are trying their hand at establishing their own digital world, setting the table for a potentially fierce Internet competition.

Second Life, the massive multiplayer online world, allows users to log on through the Internet and create 3-D computer-generated identities. Businesses such as Cisco (CSCO), Dell (DELL) and IBM (IBM) have already set up shop in Second Life, making it the first destination for real-world companies looking to extend their brand in to the virtual realm.

Linden Lab, the San Francisco-based creator and maintainer of Second Life, has big numbers. The virtual world's population is quickly approaching 5 million residents, more than tripling over the last six months.

Over the course of one day, more than $1.5 million is typically being spent by users within the digital world, making it one of the most popular 3-D destinations on the Web outside of There.com and World of Warcraft.

Kaneva's Blank Canvas

New virtual destinations, though, are inspecting Second Life's armor for chinks. One of the newest is Kaneva, which extends a profile system similar to News Corp.'s (NWS) MySpace into a three-dimensional world.

Kaneva, Latin for "canvas," certainly isn't as immersive as the world of Second Life, but its simple design and controls may draw a much larger, less tech-savvy crowd.

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