For many people outside of the "virtual worlds industry" the terms "virtual world" and "Second Life" are still more or less synonyms. This is especially funny, as many people in the industry seem to have written off Second Life because of many disappointing developments in 2007 and the big negative hype in the press. It is much more en vogue currently, to place your bets on the new kids on the block: Vivaty, WebFlock and especially Lively (by Google!).
It is not a secret, though, that Linden Lab's management and investors still believe that the Second Life technology will be the (or a least "a") corner stone of the future Web3D. Is this totally unrealistic? And would would Linden Lab have to do, to make this come true if it isn't? Making the platform more stable is a simple answer - and certainly a pre-requesite. But what about other decisions? More control? Or less? More openness? Or a tightly controlled product? And a product for which target groups? Based on what business model?
Actually - and for some of my readers maybe surprisingly - I think that Linden Lab has a strategy for the coming years and Second Life's place in the Metaverse.
While I am not sure, that the company's management and shareholders has answers ready for all of the questions mentioned above, it is interesting to read the speech of Mitch Kapor (creator or the first successful spreadsheet software and a major Investor in LL) and the latest blog post of Linden Lab's new CEO, Mark Kingdon. (Check here, too.) Both will tell you, that Linden Lab indeed has a rather profitable business model, is expecting significant growth and is targeting markets way outside the current user base (actually alienating large groups in the current user base). In parallel, it is interesting to see, that Linden Lab created a "Department of Public Works" earlier this year, which is responsible for "beautifying Second Life" - after a long long time, where the company just flooded the market with more and more "land" (servers) which quickly were converted into huge trailer parks.
These activities seem to lead into different directions ... but I believe, that they are all part of a unified strategy to position Second Life as a standard tool for creating and accessing the future Web 3D as well as to position Linden Lab as one - but not the only - important service provider.