Well, that was an eye-opener. Amazon.com‘s Werner Vogels just told the Supernova conference that the shopping site [well, some of its employees, anyway] is considering a move into the virtual world of Second Life. “There is a group of Amazonians in Second Life,” Vogels said, “and we are building a bridge between Amazon Web services and Second Life so you can go into Second Life and actually try things on there and buy them. There are people who want to use Amazon as a platform to buy and sell things in Second Life.” It’s not clear how far along the effort is or how much official support it has in the company ([see below], Vogels was speaking in response to a question from the audience), but it is clear that people at major Web-based retailers and eCommerce portals have begun to look at SL as a commercial platform. Watch out, SLBoutique? Time will tell. Stay tuned for more reports.
[Update:] Vogels, who is VP of worldwide architecture and chief technology officer at Amazon, tells me that there is indeed an “Amazonians” group in SL composed of Amazon employees, and that they are trying to see what it would take to create a Web-services bridge between the virtual world and the shopping site. The effort is not being done under the auspices of the company, he says.
Vogels and the other Amazonians are interested to see whether Amazon could support this kind of commerce. “If we are truly a platform, we should be able to do this,” he said. “These kinds of extreme uses can teach you a lot about your platform.” Vogels admits that SL’s Web hooks may not currently be the perfect tools to support such a bridge, but he predicts success within six months or so. This would be a very interesting development both for SL residents and for SL itself. Imagine shopping for a dress on Amazon and having a prim dress returned as part of your search results. The potential for Amazon partner revenue accruing to sales of virtual items is interesting as well. As I say above, stay tuned.