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What is the Main Reason for SL's Failure?


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Check out this question at Quora: What is the main reason for Second Life's failure to meet industry and media expectations made during its 2006-2007 hype era?

If you click on the question, it takes you to the answer with most votes. At present, the answer with the most votes is by Gary Wisniewski, the founder of treet.tv. According to him, LL has enough profit to survive and maintain its niche market, "but not enough revenue potential or strong enough management to take the daring moves needed to reinvent themselves and move to the next level" (quoting his VC friend).

Hat tip to New World Notes

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That's an easy one, irrational exhuberance. Plus, that was idyllic, peaceful decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union and before 9/11. 

It seems to me LL has made some bold moves. They eliminated resident last names. It may have been weird and unnecessary, but it was bold. They shipped all the sex fiends off to Zindra. They copied the Facebook wall and plopped that into everyone's in-world profile as the default setting. That's pretty bold too.

Unfortunately, it's not enough to just be bold. You need to be bold and correct, at least some of the time.

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Surely the answer is the same as for every other company that leads the market with disruptive technology: once they have broken the paradigm (if an analogous one even exists) or stretched the envelope, then they fail to advantage themselves of their profit potential by refusing to provide their target demographics with what those early adopters have publicly stated they would buy, and instead revert to cliched copying of what has already been a success for first movers in subtly differentiated market sectors.

(Did that sound like marketing bs? I hope it did, because then LL's marketing department might understand it.)

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Randall Ahren wrote:

Check out this question at Quora: 

If you click on the question, it takes you to the answer with most votes. At present, the
with the most votes is by Gary Wisniewski, the founder of treet.tv. According to him, 
LL has enough profit to survive and maintain its niche market, "but not enough revenue potential or strong enough management to take the daring moves needed to reinvent themselves and move to the next level" (quoting his VC friend).

Hat tip to 

I'd have to venture a guess and say lack of sponsor's (as in advertisment) as the main reason.  If LL had sponsor's, the "land" would then become within a rational price range.  With internet TV on the horizon, sponsorship seems what is logical to me, but LL doesn't seem to think that way, and it is very tough to make it in this economy or any economy without sponsorship. 

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Theresa Tennyson wrote:

NOT to permaban
a small but
significant
redundant 
group of
residents
semi-intellectual native English - speaking agitating  accounts
whose pretension, cynicism and love of whining suggest that they're drawn to virtual worlds because it would be physically impossible for those who encounter them to smother them to death with a pillow.

FIFY

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The "Industry" cannot see the forest through the trees if the forest is greater than 90 days out. The future is parceled into Quarterly Returns. Business is very impatient and it often believes that the profit that they seek is the purpose for their existence.

Second Life makes Money; it is not starving.

The greatest fallacy of modern economics is that perpetually accelerating growth is possible.

One reason for the lack of progress in SL is that veteran Residents know too much. They have placed value in SL and any attempts to undermine this value will be taken personally by those Residents.

I can only change things that I can control or influence. When I change, my SL changes.

I apologize to Mr. Industry and to his pet, Media, but I'm in it for the cause. Money is only a side effect of doing good business.

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ROB34466IIIa wrote:


Theresa Tennyson wrote:

NOT to permaban
a small but
significant
redundant 
group of
residents
semi-intellectual native English - speaking agitating  accounts
whose pretension, cynicism and love of whining suggest that they're drawn to virtual worlds because it would be physically impossible for those who encounter them to smother them to death with a pillow.

FIFY

Aw, don't be so cruel to yourself, Robbie.

Isn't a public lack of self-esteem a terrible thing in a robot?

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I really don't care what other folks expectations were.  And just because SL supposedly has not met industry expectations still does not make it a failure.

But if I were to put a "main reason" to answer this question it would be failure to listen to the Residents and misplaced priorities.

How long does it take to address the group chat and SIM crossing issues?  Maybe they think I will be happy to just sail the new mesh boat around in circles. 

It simply seems that sometimes they still have the cart in front of the horse.

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Linden Lab is still here, and honestly I wasn't sure they would be after some of the gaffes they had regarding land management. I've been around since 2003, so I've seen quite a few changes in the meantime.

I started out with the same starry-eyed optimism that every newbie does, how the technology could possibly be the 'new' internet, excited about the melding of scripts and objects, how to build and meeting people. I still have that creative spark, but it is now moderated by things that I know now that I didn't then.

When building, there are a few things about the tools that will drive you nuts until you get the 'tricks' down. Sculpts were a nice band-aid for a while, and mesh is truly making things more interesting. There are still plenty of 'gotchas' you only learn by trial-and-error, but if you persevere you can generally get what you were thinking of done.

What still bothers me about SL is inherent to the streaming model - you go somewhere, and everything is a mish-mash of 'stand-in' objects before their sculpt maps load, or their meshes load or whatever. And considering that a lot of the in-world content is moving in this direction, I completely expect newer users to not 'get' the fact they have to wait for things to fully rezz. Imagine if you didn't know this - would you stick around what looked like a collection of overly-large spheres and odd-shaped objects before giving up?

I suppose my main complaint is the method of 'stand-ins' before the real content is rezzed. Why not build flat sprites of a given projection and stream that? At least you'd have some idea of what is supposed to 'flesh' out, and not be surrounded by oddly-scaled objects that only make sense once you've stuck around a while.

As for scripting, it is interesting and somewhat frustrating in some respects - noteably the lack of communication between objects in-world, or even the ability to 'scrape' IM instead of it being a one-way communication path as it is now. (My object can IM me about something, but I can't send a response that can be parsed.)

As for SL 'Failing'... that is a tough one. They're making enough to employ people, keep the servers on, and all that. Do I run into people 'out there' in the real world that use SL? Hardly ever. So, what is their tack? Linden Realms, which is okay for first-timers, but not really something I'd do as an experienced resident. Sure, I tried it out - it suffers from some design problems, such as no 'checkpoint' determination (allowing you to bypass any 'hazards' pretty easily) and other shortcomings people have mentioned here.

I don't know what Linden Lab is trying to do, 'dumb' it down so people want to log in - but then recoil in horror as they discover the complexities, or perhaps make a two-tier 'experience' where all the advanced users get their menus and such, but the 'casual' players just have a simplified viewer and in-world destinations?

Beats me, I just wish they'd open source the server and get the technology out there - you know, like how the world wide web started. I'm not holding my breath for that one, however. Or perhaps someone will come along, add a 'social' component to the whole idea and make billions. Guess we'll see...

 

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I always have a hard time understanding these, seemingly, constant statements about Second Life being a failure.  A failure by who's definition?  A failure, to me, means it's gone.....relegated to the trash heap.  But SL is still here 8 years later.  Sure it might (and, for many, is) a failure if it does not meet your needs.  That can be said of many thingsk.....iPhone, for example, it doesn't meet my personal needs but it certainly is not a failure.

 

The problem I see is that SL is too open ended.  Philip Rosedale designed it that way on purpose.  His "vision" was a platform that allowed almost anything people could dream up (within legal and technical limits, of course).  To do such a thing required something that had never been done before....a dynamic 3D virtual world that changes infinitately.  A virtual world where almost every object, item, script that make up the world is user created (limited, again, only by the users' imagination and technology available).  The hardware required to make such a world is anything but "average" (and the only hardware Linden Lab has control over is the hardware they own.....the rest is hardware that the user owns).  So another aspect of this "vision" is that the user needs some technical knowledge to succeed in whatever it is that they want of SL.  All that made SL appealing to a pretty small niche group (the average Internet user does not have the knowledge or the hardware necessary to get much at all from SL........that's still true today, in my opinion).  That's why many might see SL as a failure......it's a failure because they don't know enough to get the most out of SL and/or they don't have the hardware necessary.  But that doesn't make SL a failure.  It only narrows the market that LL appeals to.  That's also why LL has had such difficulty attracting "sponsorship".........the sponsors may get it but the requirements of the users don't so they are hesitant to invest (not enough return on that investment).  And, still, I don't see that as defining SL as a failure.....evidently the niche is enough to sustain LL's efforts (how else could SL still exist?).

 

If your definition of failure is SL not being what you think it should be then, for you, it probably is a failure.  If you came to SL wanting to make your first $1,000,000 then it's likely you failed........not SL, but you the user.  The platform is designed in such a way that a user can achieve that million dollars but LL is not going to help you beyond providing the platform and tools for you to use. 

 

I sometimes get the impression that for SL not to fail in many people's minds SL has to evolve into somthing much simpler.  Something anyone can use without any technical knowledge or skill.  Something like Facebook........which we all profess to loathe.  Facebook is not a failure.......but the niche market is certainly larger than SL's so it's easier to say it's a success over SL.  But, really, is it?  I don't think so.  It's all in what you define as failure.   One fo the basic definitions of "failure" is:

nonperformance of something due, required, or expected: a failure to do what one has promised; a failure to appear.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/failure

I don't think that applies to Second Life.

 
 
 
 
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Peggy Paperdoll wrote:

I always have a hard time understanding these, seemingly, constant statements about Second Life being a failure.  A failure by who's definition?  A failure, to me, means it's gone.....relegated to the trash heap.  But SL is still here 8 years later.  Sure it might (and, for many, is) a failure if it does not meet your needs.  That can be said of many thingsk.....iPhone, for example, it doesn't meet my personal needs but it certainly is not a failure.

 

The problem I see is that SL is too open ended.  Philip Rosedale designed it that way on purpose.  His "vision" was a platform that allowed almost anything people could dream up (within legal and technical limits, of course).  To do such a thing required something that had never been done before....a dynamic 3D virtual world that changes infinitately.  A virtual world where almost every object, item, script that make up the world is user created (limited, again, only by the users' imagination and technology available).  The hardware required to make such a world is anything but "average" (and the only hardware Linden Lab has control over is the hardware they own.....the rest is hardware that the user owns).  So another aspect of this "vision" is that the user needs some technical knowledge to succeed in whatever it is that they want of SL.  All that made SL appealing to a pretty small niche group (the average Internet user does not have the knowledge or the hardware necessary to get much at all from SL........that's still true today, in my opinion).  That's why many might see SL as a failure......it's a failure because they don't know enough to get the most out of SL and/or they don't have the hardware necessary.  But that doesn't make SL a failure.  It only narrows the market that LL appeals to.  That's also why LL has had such difficulty attracting "sponsorship".........the sponsors may get it but the requirements of the users don't so they are hesitant to invest (not enough return on that investment).  And, still, I don't see that as defining SL as a failure.....evidently the niche is enough to sustain LL's efforts (how else could SL still exist?).

 

If your definition of failure is SL not being what you think it should be then, for you, it probably is a failure.  If you came to SL wanting to make your first $1,000,000 then it's likely you failed........not SL, but you the user.  The platform is designed in such a way that a user can achieve that million dollars but LL is not going to help you beyond providing the platform and tools for you to use. 

 

I sometimes get the impression that for SL not to fail in many people's minds SL has to evolve into somthing much simpler.  Something anyone can use without any technical knowledge or skill.  Something like Facebook........which we all profess to loathe.  Facebook is not a failure.......but the niche market is certainly larger than SL's so it's easier to say it's a success over SL.  But, really, is it?  I don't think so.  It's all in what you define as failure.   One fo the basic definitions of "failure" is:

nonperformance
of
something
due, required, or
expected:
a
failure to do what one has
promised;
a
failure
to
appear.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I don't think that applies to Second Life.
 
 
 
 

Oh, I also wanted to add I do not think SL is a failure.  What I meant by no sponsorship is it causes the virtual land prices to be too high and thus so many close sims.  However, a thread just started that tier prices are going down 40% just after I had written the no sponsorship reason in my post. 

You have an interesting and logical point about sponsorship in that sponsors may only go for a stable 2D platform for all the average pc and laptop users.  However, SL has Marketplace, but many residents and merchants feel that MP is unstable also.  However, I love MP and I do not work for LL either.  lol   I just happen to love the time MP saves me. 

However, resident creators are giving free advertising to many products instead of the products helping them make their tier.  Perhaps one day it could work the other way around...?

Yet I still don't see SL as a failure, but I'm sure their prices have gone down due to lack of sponsorship. 

Also, they could have gone for adult entertainment sponsors, but bringing teens into SL would scare those sponsors in the adult entertainment world away.

SL is thriving as it is, but obviously prices just feel through the floor for LL NOT the residents, that is.  I am also just a resident, too.  Just stating my opinion from a business perspective. 

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BothamFidor wrote:

Surely the answer is the same as for every other company that leads the market with disruptive technology: once they have broken the paradigm (if an analogous one even exists) or stretched the envelope...

If SL is a failure in any respect, it's in its ability to provide the disruptive technology you speak of here.

Hubris is not reality and if we really were looking for Linden Labs to create a gale of "Creative Destruction" of the kind described by Schumpeter, we've been badly let down.

At the most we've been privy to a small squeak of embarrassing flatulence. The pervasive scent of which belies the feeble physical reality of its source.

Technological ubiquity is accelerating rapidly to pervade every part of our lives, which I guess by its nature may ultimately realise our personal immersion within some sort of physical/digital continuum.

This is all happening elsewhere however, and not in the vacant little gold rush town we know of as Second Life. The galloping hordes have disappeared over the horizon, visible to those left behind only by the cloud of dust blown back towards us on the breeze.

I believe that in a few years, the idea that SL was capable of providing the technological epiphany of which you speak will be seen as quaint and amusing, if not downright ridiculous.

 

 

 

 

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Solipcyst wrote:


BothamFidor wrote:

Surely the answer is the same as for every other company that leads the market with disruptive technology: once they have broken the paradigm (if an analogous one even exists) or stretched the envelope...

If SL is a failure in any respect, it's in its ability to provide the disruptive technology you speak of here.

Hubris is not reality and if we really were looking for Linden Labs to create a gale of "Creative Destruction" of the kind described by Schumpeter, we've been badly let down.

At the most we've been privy to a small squeak of embarrassing flatulence. The pervasive scent of which belies the feeble physical reality of its source.

Technological ubiquity is accelerating rapidly to pervade every part of our lives, which I guess by its nature may ultimately realise our personal immersion within some sort of physical/digital continuum.

This is all happening elsewhere however, and not in the vacant little gold rush town we know of as Second Life. The galloping hordes have disappeared over the horizon, visible to those left behind only by the cloud of dust blown back towards us on the breeze.

I believe that in a few years, the idea that SL was capable of providing the technological epiphany of which you speak will be seen as quaint and amusing, if not downright ridiculous.

 

Hmm, I noted the appearance of your name on the "new members" list and I wondered whether something like this might be forthcoming . . .

While I was not disappointed, I hope I am not going to disappoint you, since I am afraid I agree with your post almost in its entirety. I also applaud its presentation. What a shame it will be wasted on most.

LL may have had a miniscule window of opportunity, but the blinds came down long ago.

Fidor

(Oh, and don't tell the LL Marketing Department that it is the 21st Century; we don't want to wake them up!)

 

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I'm not an industry or a media, so I don't have a sense that SL failed.

What happened is that SL put the means of production in the hands of anyone who wanted it. This effectively put individuals on the same footing as the corporations as far as making things to sell or look at.

The only advantage a company has over an individual is money, if it cares to spend it, but even that can be overcome by individual's putting in time.

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Maxx Monde wrote:

...

As for scripting, it is interesting and somewhat frustrating in some respects - noteably the lack of communication between objects in-world, or even the ability to 'scrape' IM instead of it being a one-way communication path as it is now. (My object can IM me about something, but I can't send a response that can be parsed.)

...

Beats me, I just wish they'd open source the server and get the technology out there - you know, like how the world wide web started. I'm not holding my breath for that one, however. ...

 

Eh?

Communication between objects: llWhisper/Say/Shout/RegionSay/RegionSayTo/llHTTPRequest/llEmail()

Send a response that can be parsed: ~2 billion chat channels including open chat, llDialog/llTextBox()

Open source the server: Opensim

===================================

@ OP:  I second Peggy's comments - SL is still here when, for instance, The Sims Online disappeared in almost no time at all.  I've often said that SL needs a radical redesign but I still think LL are leading the way, even if they are randomly stumbling in the dark as they explore what might work)

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