With the launch of Meez Roomz on Facebook (here), I get asked a lot about whether our avatars and those in Second Life are similar. The short answer is that the basic purpose of an avatar, which is to represent one in a digital world, is the same in both scenarios, but that how our audience uses them is quite different.
The best way to look at this is that Second Life avatars are often used to represent fantasy versions of users, which is one of the reasons gender switching is so high in SL, as it also is in Massively Multiplayer games like World of Warcraft. Anywhere between 1/3 and 2/3 of female avatars in these situations are said to be male in the real world. A recent Nottingham Trent University study (here) has recently come to the same conclusion.
Meez users could technically do that as well, but because Meez avatars are used primarily to represent the user in their real world social media and IM systems (MySpace, Live Journal, AIM, Facebook, mobile phone, etc.), our studies show that only a very small percentage of our users are switching genders. We have what we call Identity Avatars, not Fantasy Avatars. A Meez is a more flexible way to show everyone online what type of person you are, and you can easily change it as your mood changes - it's like the ring tone of the Internet - a song that makes you feel good, and also tells everyone around you what type of music you like.
There is certainly room for both types of avatars in the world, but we believe strongly that Identity avatars are a much larger market in the long run (although fantasy avatars are great in early adopter markets), especially as our users go increasingly portable with their Meez, vs having different ones for each online venue. Plus the advertising opportunities are far greater in real world scenarios than in fantasy-based ones, as we've shown recently with our most recent integrated brand deals with AT&T Digital World and Snapple.
Next we'll start running an online advertising campaign - "Come to Meez, where women are actually women" (somewhat kidding)