Being blessed/cursed with the ability to speak and read Japanese, I think it's incumbent upon me to translate items of interest to mega-uber value readers which come my way from Japan. Typically, this is from japan.internet.com, which conducts some amazing research with its various partners. This time around, the joint survey is carried out with Cross Marketing KK, and focuses on use of avatars. (Here's mine.)
The sample group consisted of 300 persons aged 10 - 60 who had some familiarity with avatars. Remarkably, 45% of them claim to have some experience of creating/using an avatar. Of this number, 68% (92 persons) claim to have used Yahoo! Avatar, followed in popularity by Hangame (originally out of Korea), at 32% (52 persons), and a handful of others (livedoor, Avatown, et al) at much lower levels. Roughly one-third of those who had created avatars claimed to have purchased virtual items with varying frequency.
Mindful of the fact that the majority of avatar use is in blogsites and personal profiles in social sites, the interviewers asked in what other contexts users would like to use their avatars. The most popular response was "nothing in particular," but among those who expressed wishes, chat was most popular at 29%, followed by online gaming at 27%, bulletin boards/forums at 24%, and IM at 23%.
I'm particularly interested in the gaming response. Is avatar interoperability the next battlefront?