Business in Virtual Worlds, Education in Virtual Worlds, Second Life, Virtual World Platforms

Linden Lab Raises Prices for Non-Profits and Schools

Linden Lab is ending discounted rates for not-for-profits and educational institutions, according to an announcement today on their blog:

“All education and non-profit private regions of any type, purchased after Dec. 31, 2010, will be invoiced at standard (i.e. non-discounted) pricing. All currently discounted renewals which occur after Dec. 31, 2010, will be adjusted to the new price at that time. To continue to provide entry-level, private spaces to educators just launching their programs, we will be providing Homestead and Open Space regions to qualifying organizations without their meeting the retail full-region criterion. Customer Support will be available to answer any questions that you may have about these changes.”

I’m not really up on the education market or what non-profits pay for things like Web hosting, text books, event space or other products, but my guess is that with the global economy sputtering along that increasing prices in these sectors isn’t particularly commonplace.

Instituting a 200% price increase, as Linden Lab has done today, seems to me more akin to what a company would try to do if they were looking to exit a particular market and does nothing to change the narrative that the company is ripe for a sale, takeover or meltdown.

We do limited work in cause marketing and education. But without any reason given I’m left to guess what’s motivating the Lab, and I can’t for the life of me think of anything other than falling profits, a wish to be a pure consumer company, or some sort of insight into the appetite for higher costs from these communities that I don’t have (a latent desire to, um, spend more?)

Regardless of which of these reasons it might be (or is there some reason I’m not able to guess at?) the move by Linden Lab represents nothing short of a blow to their credibility and judgement, and while I’ve long been a supporter of the community and possibilities of the virtual world, it’s clearly time to start dusting off the blog posts looking at the alternatives.

While a move in the education market might not seem to have implications for enterprise, my feeling is that this move erodes trust in the viability of the Lab’s strategies and indicates they are taking a lowest common denominator view of who they think their target Second Life user should be.


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