SL has seen lots of progress since the day the first few builds where imported from the Linden World, until todays Zindra and Nascera continents. Just take a close look at that wall: Prims are not aligned at all:-)
The moles would have committed seppuku in their new Japanese village before leaving such a mess.
Lots of people are making predictions for 2010; I thought it would be fun to make my own. Perhaps it will not be equally fun to make a status of them at year end LOL, but at least I'd given it a try:-)
So, my predictions / hopes / ideas / fantasies / fears for 2010:
SL will continue to grow slowly but steadily. No revolution, but a steady evolution.
Large event server
LL will make a "class 6" server commercially available, targeted for big events. Will allow for larger numbers of avatars present (more CPU, higher bandwidth, not necessarily with more prim density, alas).
Live music events will be used as a marketing tool; there will be a sign-up process to allow people to sign up and log in directly to an announced event.
As a part of their steadily move into the SL content marked, LL will begin to host live events themselves, with participations from active groups of residents or from the RL music industry.
Broadcasts from SL events
Already, people are using the normal SL client to combine SL and RL events. LL will put together a streaming technology package that will enable them to produce live video coverage of SL events on the Secondlife.com web site.
Linden Homes will make a sizable dent in the low-end rental marked, and the estate marked will also suffer from it. However, growth (increased new user retention) will cover a lot of it.
There will be no full mainland SIM auctions; existing mainland will stay as is, with some small improvements like roads and railways made by the Moles. We might see one more themed continent like Bay City and Nautilus late in the year, or perhaps an extension to Bay, but don't hold your breath.
I still hope for a city-like Linden Home village!
Creating and IP Content Protection
LL will introduce some new creation technology (meshes, script languages, animations, or something else) that will only be available for either verified accounts or (worse) some group of approved solution providers.
I'd love to see the possibility to code directly against the Mono framework using C# or Java, bypassing the LSL compiler altogether, although I think this will only be made available for selected partners (if ever at all).
I hope LL will clean up the LSL environment, fixing well-known bugs and performance problems (like the missing AO events, move_end bug and others), but I do not hope for much.
LL may be forced to implement restrictions on non-verified accounts regarding their possibilities to either upload textures or selling items.
Fun and Games
LL will announce a cooperation with a game creation company that will make games integrated with SL. They will use the media plug-in and possibly other viewer enhancement to shift the load to the client, allowing resident access to high-speed real-time games like car racing or shoot-outs without the limitations that the current grid technology imposes. Part of this content will only be available to premium accounts.
Business and Education
LL will complement it's SL Enterprise "Behind the firewall corporate grid" product with a separate public grid available only for verified corporate accounts. This grid will be targeted to companies not large enough to be willing to spend USD55K on the stand-alone product, but still wants to use the SL technology to host meetings and training sessions in a more "serious" and safe environment than the main grid. As an alternative, they may set up a "business continent" with special restrictions in place for access. Either way, we may see corporate registration in some form, with real name employee avatars connected to the corporate account.
Major changes will include inventory handling, combining landmark and SLUR's into some kind of web-like bookmarks. There will be further restrictions on the development of 3'rd party viewers, to make sure they don't include harassment or IP infringement possibilities.
Facebook style web with time line, can be updated with pics and notices from in-world. Smart Phone integration. Land marked on Web.
That's it. My head is on the block. Lets see what 2010 really will bring about:-)