I was just reading an article on ABC News about the SLCC. I find it amusing the constant "well only x people made a lot of money in Second Life".
What percentage of Internet users make real money on the internet. Is it even 1%? What use is the Internet then? Oh..it was started as a way to exchange ideas between scientists, educators, and inventors? People use it just to share with others and connect to family far away? Where's the worth in that? Could it be the communication and connection and creativity has its own worth?
SL is just a new medium that is still growing. It's also different. When companies first came to the internet few made much money or had more than a few brochures online. It took time to learn the new medium and now many businesses exist only on the web. Given time SL, or other virtual worlds like it will develop in to a new medium for business and yet still be a medium for play - not unlike the internet, but at the same time in a different way than the internet.
And for those who ask why would you spend money on virtual objects - what does your movie ticket buy you? 2 hours in the theater and a memory? How is that any more tangible than a virtual outfit that may be "worn" many times and is used to impress someone who might become a business partner?
Hype is hype, but given time and the development of more pervasive bandwidth and better computers virtual worlds will become as common as instant messaging and email.