When the Ladies and Gents in Winterfell get together to celebrate a 5-year rez day, it's rare to spot an ARC below 2000.
There are a lot of negative blog coverage about SL and LL these days. The lab goes through all the typical pains any upstart business settling down does, and that is bound to create frustrations amongst a lot of their customers. This, in combination with a more mature OpenSim technology, has led to a certain exodus from Second Life to other worlds.
But it's actually just a certain. The statistics in HyperGrid Business shows that the total growth in virtual worlds is more than 10 times larger than the decline in SL regions. 1605 regions increase in OpenSim based worlds versus 137 lost from SL.
A sim is not a sim, as Ener loves to say, but even so these numbers indicate that virtual world usage is rising. And for those of us that loves these fairytale places thats a good sign!
The single most interesting strategic decision that Linden Lab will need to make during the next few years is weather to embrace or resist the OpenSim ecosystem. There are several interesting options available for them. They can choose to work with a few major OpenSim Grids to allow hypergrid and asset transfer to and from SL. They can themselves offer lower-cost OpenSim based regions integrated with Second Life. Or, at the extreme end, they can try to convert the Second Life world to OpenSim. True, that would be a huge project, probably too huge, but it all depends on the will.
From the IT world, an example comes to my mind.
IBM, faced with the growth of the free Linux operating system and the Java language, both competing with their proprietary systems, have chosen to embrace and offer these technologies as an alternative to their own. And it seems they are having great success with both lines.
So I think thats the middle ground that the Lab ought to run for: Work with and extend the OpenSim product. Offer OpenSim Grids with the competitive edge of being able to interact with the Second Life grid. And perhaps do that together with some OS grid operators.
Ladies and Gentleman, a toast for the future of virtual worlds:-)