Business in Virtual Worlds, Second Life

Only in Paris: Linden Lab and the Road Ahead

M in Paris by way of Chez Serge.

Seems like every time M hits Paris he spills out a little bit more stuff about where Linden Lab is headed with Second Life. Must be the wine or something, because he always ends up sounding a little more loose lipped than he tends to get this side of the Atlantic. So it was recently when the Lab went hunting for offices in Amsterdam and then popped in for lunch or whatever in Paris.

M (or Mark Kingdon as he’s know in the atomic world) re-emphasized a few points he brought up at the recent Second Life Community Convention but went further, according to a report by Chez Serge.

M reminded us that the new viewer’s coming. I’ve personally been waiting for this for over a year. With 50 people working it, sounds like this is a major project for the Lab. I’ve long been hopeful that a new viewer would be transformative for Second Life and if it establishes new benchmarks for elegance in UI design, can hold incredible strategic advantage over other platforms.

But M also hinted that they would do a follow-up act with a browser-based viewer. I’m not quite following the logic of this unless he means a “Web-based experience” rather than a full viewer. Rather than trying to replicate the experience of SL in the browser (the approach taken by 3Di for example) I’d prefer to see resources go into an alternative Web-based experience of SL.

What I was really excited about was M’s comment about an “iPhone-type app store”: “There will be more help to the content creator, including the media API, but also possibilities for the creator to sell its products through a mechanism which will be inspired by iTunes appstore portal.” This is a little vague, but what I picture here is better support for selling all the stuff that’s created AROUND Second Life – the Web-side code, sites, plug-ins and so on. XStreet focuses on content that can be used IN-WORLD, the above comment seems to suggest that creators will be able to sell other content as well.

Accompanying this are additional opportunities for content creators to sell to the enterprise market and the privately hosted Grids that will arrive with the launch of Nebraska:

“(Next is) their standalone tool, whose code name so far is Nebraska. 10 alpha customers are using it, including IBM (who will launch a collaborative product very soon, as I have learned in 3DTLC), Intel, Boose Allen, and the US military. The product will be annouced around november, with full technical specification, features, and pricing, and version 1.0 will be public Q1 next year (I know that IBM already did some integration with LDAP server). They did not mention the business model, but they are looking for channel partners to sell the platform. Inside Nebraska, there will be a market place (iTunes like) where users can buy existing content.”

It will be interesting to see how open the ‘channel partners’ channel actually is.

And finally, M gave a far more detailed overview of how the Work channel for enterprise will, um, work. In addition to the new Web site, it will include:

- Registration as an organization
- Dedicated enterprise registration pathways
- Enterprise orientation island, offering the possibility to use company’s name for the avatars
- The possibility for a company to give (or not) linden dollars, and to welcome guest avatars.

The next phase will offer an enterprise hub and there will be community gateways.

No word if they’ll ever get around to providing an INVOICING option for enterprise (using credit cards to pay for sim rentals and corporate user accounts is amateur hour).

So – next time we need a little more detail on where Linden Lab is headed, I say we get the European crowd together to invite M over.


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