The multi-cultural Second Life® and penetration rates

Encouraged by Hamlet Au’s article on how Japan is growing its number of SL residents, I thought I should do some statistics as well, just to keep everybody amused in what you can find out about Second Life.

Hamlet has this breakthrough announcement that “Japan Residents Surpass Europe”. What he really wishes to say is that Japan has more residents than any European country, but the title is misleading. As you can see on this spreadsheet, just the European Union has about 40% of all users of Second Life, compared to Japan’s 8%. If you add the rest of the European countries, it’s close to 50%, which is not surprising: Europe has 800 million inhabitants, compared to Japan’s 128 million or the USA’s 300 million. I would be very surprised indeed if there were more Japanese in SL than the whole of Europe put together; in fact, Japan has about a sixth of the population of Europe, and so those ratios make sense. There is also one American for each 2.66 Europeans, so the ratios between the US residents and the European ones are also close to what they should be.

Still, we have some anomalies. Brazil has come on the second place of the overall country ranking, and this is surprising coming from a country which is not yet overall as developed as the US, Europe, or Japan, although in large areas of Brazil there is the same level of development as on the Western world. In fact, Brazil has 186 million inhabitants — just 45% more than Japan — and in spite of a much lower average standard of living, they already have more residents than Japan in SL. Sure, in terms of sheer population, they ought to have 12% of all residents, and they “only” have 8%, but this figure is still amazing!

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