Archive for the RL Category

Is Amazon Destined to Replace Marketplace and Buy SL?

Posted in Op/Ed, Real Life, RL, SecondLife®, SL® Business, Virtual Worlds with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 10, 2013 by Valiant Westland

For years I’ve been predicting that the next wave of Virtual World development would be driven by the inevitable competition of e-commerce, marketing and gaming heavyweights like Google, Amazon & Microsoft.  All of these players have a huge vested interest in capturing the annuity income produced by the rapidly expanding world of Virtual Products and services.

SL Now On AmazonSo imagine my “surprise” when I saw the Second Life Community announcement, about Linden Lab offering Start-up and Enhancement Kits on Amazon!   I believe this is a first step towards the eventual disbanding of the Standalone SL Marketplace, in favor of an Amazon-powered alternative.  If I’m right, SL itself could be an acquisition target for Amazon in the not too distant future.

The early failure of Google’s Lively Virtual 3D World and the lackluster performance of Sony’s PlayStation Home Virtual World offering, should not be used to throw out this line of speculation.  These earlier efforts have one thing in common that Amazon and even SL doesn’t, a lack of profitability.

In addition to an Alpha-level user interface, no realistic profit potential is the main reason Google pulled the plug on Lively.  Interestingly enough, Sony, in response to Microsoft’s hugely successful xbox.com webstore, has used this years CES show to announce it is bringing its own SEN (Sony Entertainment Network) store to the US and integrate it with the PlayStation Home experience.

Amazon Web ServicesSo why would Linden Lab give up running its own primary revenue source (Marketplace)?  Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and a potential increase in Net Revenues by outsourcing e-commerce to an organization like Amazon.  Amazon has arguably the most cost-effective and efficient e-commerce platform in the world.  They also have something Linden Lab does not, more than “164 Million paying customers!”  This is a huge potential untapped market for Second Life, that would be almost impossible to reach, without this type of partnership.

Many people, not directly involved with Second Life’s back-end development, might be surprised to learn that since 2006 “Linden Lab has used Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to store elements used in the Second Life world and to distribute the Second Life Viewer to end users.”  In fact, Amazon has featured Linden Lab in a Case Study, from which this quote was taken.

Every company reaches a point where one or more things happen.  They either fail, diversify with new products & markets to sustain growth, go public, acquire additional private capital or are acquired.  Linden Lab has thus far failed to expand its market.  Their attempts to diversify their product via their Enterprise product was, as reported by Hypergrid Business, “a costly mistake.”  Their more recent Time to Sell!Patterns and Creatorverse products seem unlikely to generate the type of revenue or market expansion required to have a measurable impact on their overall business.  Going public is an unlikely option and it is doubtful any more private capital would flow into a stagnant business model.  The only remaining choice for the original investors to cash out, sell Second Life!

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has proven he is a fierce competitor who is willing to take risks and sacrifice margin to dominate an industry.  In fact, a Jan 8th, 2013 Bloomberg Businessweek story on Amazon was summarized like this: “As long as consumers are consuming and shareholders are buying what Bezos is selling, Amazon looks fairly unbeatable.”

Hang on to your virtual hats ladies and gentlemen, I think 2013 could shape up to be an interesting year.  My advice.  Buy Amazon (AMZN) stock and look forward to a Virtual e-Commerce SL Marketplace experience powered by Amazon in the near future!

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Second Life ‘s “Cloudy” Future

Posted in Op/Ed, Real Life, RL, SecondLife®, SL® Advertising, SL® Business, SL® Education, SL® Fashion, Virtual Worlds with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2013 by Valiant Westland

2012 – The SL Future That Wasn’t

Before we look forward to what I believe is/should be SL’s “Cloudy” future, we might want to glance back at what 2012 brought us.  As we entered 2012, Linden Lab CEO Rodvik Humble told us we could look forward to:

  • A New Path-finding SystemMesh Avatar
  • Server side performance upgrades and bug fixes
  • More Premium benefits/features and content
  • New tools, like those used to develop Linden Realms
  • Stable tier pricing
  • Additional advanced features (Mesh!?)

Two of the most anticipated upgrades of 2012, Mesh and the new Path-finding System, are still not fully deployed.  I and many others have begun upgrading our inventory with Mesh creations, but the lack of a completed Mesh Deformer as part of the release viewer continues to generate wailing and gnashing of teeth for those with other than model-“perfect” forms.

Redgrave, one of Second Life’s most respected and innovative brands has refused to wait and introduced their own “Liquid Mesh (TM)” solution, that automatically adjusts their Liquid Mesh clothing designs to most avatar shapes.  It remains to be seen whether this bold move will result in a net gain in market share or cause confusion and ultimately frustration, when the lab finally releases built-in deformer technology.

Path-finding is another “almost here,” enhancement that can’t seem to make it to prime time.  The promise of enhanced path-finding is vehicles, BOTs and other objects being able to move more smoothly, including over sim boundaries, with less lag.  The reality for most users, who know nothing of these enhancements, is a strange new symbol and accompanying message appearing in their viewer.

Second Life URL Bar with Pending Changes Icon

Navmesh has pending changes The region has pending changes that have not yet been baked into the navmesh.

My primary SL property is a mainland region that is bisected by a Linden Road.  I have yet to see any path-finding benefits.  The same vintage automated 2005 vehicles continue to bounce and bumble up and down the road, in the same herky jerky manner, typically stalling, sinking sideways or even sling-shotting violently over the SIM border crossing near my home.

Why “Clouds” Matter

Disclaimer:  For those who are not aware, I make my RL living as a Consultant, helping companies develop and implement Technology and Online-media Marketing Plans that align with their strategic business goals.  I always urge my clients to be unabashedly “market-driven” and “surf” the technology waves whenever possible, rather than trying to fight them or create their own.  In 2013, I’ll be publishing a book on “Technology Planning In/For The Cloud.”

Cloud PartyWhile Linden Lab was busy trying to roll out in-world enhancements like Mesh, obviously designed to boost its revenues, through upgrade and new item sales revenues, the greater (Real) and virtual worlds continued their headlong flight to cloud-based computing.  In the Virtual World space, two cloud computing-based offerings, Kitely and Cloud Party saw significant user growth.  Many SL developers are eagerly porting content, in the hopes of establishing themselves as brand/solution leaders on these new cloud-based platforms.

Meanwhile the Google Apps cloud-based office productivity suite and Google Drive continue to steal market share from Microsoft’s venerable Office solution offerings, despite Microsoft offering their own cloud-based Office 365 solution.  There has been an explosion of Smart Phone and Tablet use.  In fact, tablets are now out-seLumiya Viewerlling laptops!  Unfortunately, with the exception of a couple of txt-only clients and one limited graphical viewer for Android devices called Lumiya, there is no way to access Second Life or even my.secondlife.com, from a Linden Lab official Smart Phone or Tablet client.

Although Linden Lab dabbled with a browser-based client over a year ago, there is no official timeline for the release of a full-featured cloud-based offering that I’m aware of.  Worse still, the primary user experiences in SL are still tied to antiquated 1960’s-era plain text NoteCards and graphics formats that 99% of the world doesn’t use!

Now Is NOT Time To Listen To Your Mother!
(Translation:  Get Your Head In The Clouds!)

If Second Life is going to survive, I believe they must aggressively move towards cloud-based offerings.  The longer the Lab waits to make their move to the cloud, the more regions, developers and regular users they will see opting for other platforms.

A 2013 Wish List For LL/SL

What follows is my personal 2013 wish list of SL enhancements, that I believe would go a long way towards slowing or even reversing SL’s slow downward spiral into irrelevance and make a majority of SL users happier and more productive! (Listed in no particular order)

  1. Deploy SL in a current-content-compatible cloud-based platform, similar to Kitely’s, with a pay-as-you-go option.
  2. Give us TRUE, persistent, Universal Status Indicator, that appears next to each persons name.  Allow status to be set prior to login!
  3. Consolidate login, account maintenance and inventory among “Alt”ernate accounts.
  4. Bring back user selectable Last Names!
  5. Provide automatic synchronization & watermarking of Pictures/Textures with users choice of Picasa, Flickr, etc.
  6. Replace the antiquated NoteCard system with integrated Google Docs / Drive functionality
  7. Upgrade My my.secondlife.com so that it’s mobile friendly and supports bi-directional web<>in-world messaging!
    Better yet, how about replacing the messaging engine with Google Chat!
  8. Deploy a C# application development/scripting environment and enhanced APIs for bi-directional object/data manipulation

Last but not least…   Please consider creating a true Reseller/Partner Network for the next generation of Second Life.  I continue to believe there are thousands of small businesses, franchises and vertical markets that could benefit from Virtual World solutions.  This market can ONLY be effectively tapped, if resellers have a S.M.A.R.T. annuity revenue incentive, support structure and marketing that originates with Linden Lab!

To all my Virtual Friends, Business Associates and Clients, whether still in SL or not, I wish you a healthy and prosperous New Year!

Telstra Thumbs Nose @ SL Community

Posted in Real Life, RL, SecondLife®, Virtual Worlds with tags , , , , , on November 17, 2009 by Valiant Westland

BigPond LogoI was sitting in my home office this evening, enjoying the luxury of listening to my favorite Pandora streaming radio station and chatting with friends in SL and on Plurk when the news alert popped up;  “Big Pond pulls plug on Second Life.”  I believe Telstra‘s decision to pull the plug on BigPond has everything to do with bandwidth costs and little or nothing to do with the success of Second Life as a business platform.  This, despite the implication of a PhD student at the Queensland University named Ms. MacKenzie, who despite her prior defense of Second Life stated  “…companies such as BigPond were deserting the platform…”.

Telco MafiaThe “Bandwidth Wars” are definitely starting to heat up.  I’ve predicted access to bandwidth and fresh water will be the next decade’s most important determiners of individual, community and national prosperity.  In the case of bandwidth, tech writer Dana Blankenhorn said:

“Like freeway lanes, like sea and airports, the quality and price of your Internet bandwidth determines how much it costs to do intellectual business with you.”
Dana Blankenhorn – ZDNet

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation has done a good job Explaining International Broadband Leadership.  Countries that help make ubiquitous, cost-effective,  high-speed broadband available to the greatest number of their citizens, will enjoy significant competitive economic advantages.  Those that favor the selfish interests of Telecom giants and allow them to throttle Internet access to services they don’t control, like Second Life, are doomed to fall further behind in an increasingly wired and “always-on” world economy.

Cracked Desert PondSo, the “Pond” is being drained for about 2,000 regular Australian users of Second Life.  My guess is that as many of these users as can find an alternative unlimited bandwidth option, will dump Telstra in return.  For those who are disabled, running home-based businesses or pursing educational endeavors in SL and don’t have other ISP options, it’s a black day indeed.

I encourage those interested in “Saving The Internet” and “Net Neutrality” to check out the following links for more information:

Suggested Links

Charity shall cover the multitude of sins

Posted in RL, SecondLife® on July 14, 2009 by Kitty Lalonde

The title of this post is  a quote from the bible, not that I’ve read the bible particularly, but it’s very, very, true. From those seeking to further or re-ignite a musical career by performing in a charity sing-a-long, or the person recently exposed for general wickedness giving a sizable donation in the hope of forgiveness to outright theft. Charity is not always about being charitable.

With most RL charities you do get some idea of where your moolah is going. Be it from annual events like Comic Relief, or the abandoned dog ‘writing’ to you from the happy dogs home where it is cared for. Of course this information might be complete bullshit, in SL however, where we’re all only who we say we are, it’s harder to be sure that your very real money is going to the right place.

You do find a lot of people asking for donations for various things in SL, be it medical aid or to assist with an electricity bill. Some of these things you want to help with, some of them less so. Not so long ago there was a blog asking for donations to a good cause. To send the bloggers child to a camp, several posts were made over the days, keeping us up to date with the total amount received, dates expected to leave, shopping trips for things to take to camp, promises of photos of the child enjoying the camp and so forth until…. Nothing. Not a sausage more was heard aside from a couple of completely unrelated posts on the blog. But I wanted to know how it went. Did they make all the money and go to the camp? Did they not reach their goal and had to postpone for next year, thus returning all the money to the donors? What was going on?

Now as evil as I feel casting aspersions on something as sensitive as this, this plea for help from this particular person left a sour taste in my mouth. Because it wasn’t the first time they’d been found needy.

It was over a year ago when I first noticed this person, their laptop was unhealthy and such was their plight that they couldn’t play SL anymore. Which, before anyone leaps in with ‘ZOMG, like SL is vital to your life’, SL *is* vital to some peoples lives, so kindly shush. Anyhoo, a sale of their items and inclusion of tip jars at their store was launched in order to garner some cash to go to a repair/new laptop. I’m not sure which. Again, a flurry of posts advertising the sale and asking for help, and again, nothing afterwards. I’d presume they’re got the lappy fixed as four days after the initial breakdown they blogged dancing on cows at an SL party. But no specific mention of a fix was made.

Now I’ve mentioned no names here, although it’s prolly fairly obvious. But believe me, I’d dearly like this person to show me a buttload of photos and say ‘fuck you bitch’ to me, I really would. Cos I hate that SL makes me suspicious like this. But at the same time you really do have to wonder what some peoples needs really are.

Free Australia!?

Posted in Op/Ed, Real Life, RL, SecondLife®, Virtual Worlds with tags , , , on June 28, 2009 by Valiant Westland
Australia Censored

Australia Censored

Australia’s proposed ban of Second Life and other similar sites sets a dangerous precedent that should strike fear into the hearts of free people everywhere.  A “free” country that has a “Minister for Censorship!?”  This is something we might expect from China, North Korea or Iran, but Australia!?  The Nazis would be so proud!

Those who call themselves “Christians” or “Moral,” might see this as a “victory” over “evil.”  But for them, as well as all who applaud this travesty of freedom I will quote Benjamin Franklin, who said:

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

It appears the people of Australia are still prisoners, exiled as were their forefathers and permitted only the

1984 or 2009?

1984 or 2009?

“freedoms” their masters deem fit.  It will be interesting to see if they accept this Orwellian destiny or rise up and demand the freedoms so many of them have given their blood to defend around the world.

As for Second Life (SL) and its “danger” as a source of adult content; SL is no more or less dangerous than the rest of the Internet.  Those who wish to can find virtually anything they want on the Internet, good, bad or indifferent.

It should be up to adults and parents, not a “Nanny State,” to take the steps necessary to limit exposure to content they deem inappropriate for themselves or their children.  This can be done at the individual PC or user level.

By banning access to Second Life, the Australian government will not only be cutting off access to “adult” content, but also art, music, education and collaboration opportunities that have the potential to enlighten, inspire and improve the lives of its citizens, young and old alike.  If the government of Australia succeeds in censoring SL from their citizens, those of us who work, learn and yes “play” in Second Life will miss the tremendous spirit and contributions our Australian brothers and sisters make to SL everyday.

May Liberty Prevail!

May Liberty Prevail!

I close with a quote from another of our (American) Founding Fathers, that I hope will be taken to heart by all those who love freedom in Australia and around the world:

“”The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”  Thomas Jefferson

An Open Letter to Senator Stephen Conroy

Posted in Real Life, RL, Satire, SecondLife®, Virtual Worlds with tags , on June 26, 2009 by Prad

Dear Senator Conroy,

We have a lot in common you and I, Sir. We’re both filthy Poms (Don’t try to deny or denounce it – we can live and work through this) and we both love the internet and the potential it can offer us.

As the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy in the land down under, I imagine you spend a fair amount of time just surfing the web and looking at random stuff. Again, this sums up my job pretty well too.

So I totally understand when you introduced the internet censorship scheme to deny the access to child pornography to the Australian people. It certainly won’t make the problem go away, but why not make life that little bit harder for paedophiles, right?

Then you extended the things you wanted to censor.. drug usage, criminal activies, cruelty, extreme violence or “revolting and abhorrent phenomena that offend against the standards of morality”. I can live without seeing those things on the internet.. especially that last one. Domino’s Pizza really is something wicked.

But then you turned your attention to online games. Now I remember when you had Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas taken off from sale because of that Hot Coffee scandal. This was the first time I became aware that Australia had no rating for adult-only content.

And I guess I can understand that. Us Brits, Senator, do have a reputation for being prudish. But even then, a pot-smoking, homosexual, chainsaw weilding one-eyed pizza delivery boy can still start up his own blog in the UK, and not get blocked.

So really, there’s no reason to hold the moral high ground in Aus.. I mean, they’re just like you and me Senator. Only with nicer weather, better sportsmen and more shrimps to put on the barbie.

Senator – I think it’s time for you to come home and let us take good care of you. It does sound like you’re missing the green, green grass of home, and perhaps it’s time to let mommy love you again. I just don’t want to see you do anything stupid like ban those nice Aussies from online worlds like Second Life.

Because, Senator, I know many of them. And when they get deprived of their second lives, they get a little homocidal and crazy, and I can’t let a fellow Brit face that sort of danger.

I have a spare room that you can camp out in while you find your feet again, Senator. Maybe you and I can work together and take over the running of the British Government? I don’t think anyone can do a much worse job..

Just.. umm.. leave running Internet censorship type of things to me, okay? You can run the House of Commons or something.. that pitifully corrupt lot could use your iron fist.

Yours,

Prad Prathivi

We Need *You*!

Posted in RL, SecondLife® with tags on May 12, 2009 by Rosie Shark

Grafitti

Have something to say but no soapbox to stand on? Then we need you!

Understand the different parts of a sentence and how they go together? Then we need you!

Want to write with a group of people who want to write as well?? We need you!

Do you like to challenge the status quo and make people think? We need you!

Like to make people laugh and enjoy linking words together in an html environment? We need you!

Know how to add a photo to a post and spell ‘the’? We need you!

Like to engage people in a dialogue about issues that affect SL and RL? Then we definitely need you!

We are looking for contributors to the Rev. If interested please contact Rosie Shark, JellyBean Madison, or Hawksrock Gunawan for info. In most cases a writing sample will be required unless we’re already familiar with your style/abilities.