Troughs and crests

By | June 16, 2010

Thinkbalm, the immersive Internet business analysts released this statement today:

‘We believe that mainstream adoption of immersive technologies in the workplace—virtual worlds, immersive learning environments, and virtual event platforms—is a matter of when, not if. But these technologies are still a new concept to most organizations and overall the barriers to adoption are quite high. In April, we modified our earlier prediction that we expected to reach the early majority adoption phase in 2013, to say we think it will take longer than this. One thing is clear: this emerging market does not yet require full-time, dedicated industry analysts to cover it’.

I wish to add my voice to the many and thank Sam and Erica Driver  from Thinkbalm for their exceptional work and contribution to the fledgling enterprise adoption of the immersive Internet. Their energy and professional endeavours will be much missed.
Change is in the wind. The predicted churn is occurring, and the instability of startups in light of the GFC is probably a factor. On the other hand, if immersive Internet technologies are money savers, as they claim to be, then today’s businesses looking for savings, should be looking to them, shouldn’t they?

And it’s worth noting that social games, as played on social media, have received healthy VC funding; these games have strong links to virtual worlds (avatars, goods, community etc). So where are things going wrong ?

Linden Lab took a big risk expecting that organisations would be willing to pay USD 55,000 for the Enterprise edition of SL (annually).  The platform gives clients a  hosting capacity of up to 800 people and 16 islands, as well as service with a smile.  However, some of the trade show applications (On24 for example) can host 1000’s.

Today (literally),  there is  talk of SL Enterprise going under, in light of Linden Labs 30% staff cuts announced last week. Don’t know if this is true, however one platform, VenueGen is apparently offering to take over all of SL’s enterprise clients and give them a free service.
For customers who are paying, VenueGen’s pricing structure is highly competitive; they are promoting $90.00 on a month-by-month basis, with no limit to the number of meetings required. Could they usurp SL Enterprise‘s meetings market completely?  If indeed they cannot do this alone, then  there are an increasing number of economically priced applications that can do this too.

The caveat is that I have yet to trial the new generation of apps myself, but hope to shortly. If you have, please feel free to share your experience, via the comments option.

Personally I am not glum, and look to two indicators to support my ‘glass half-full’ approach.

1. The virtual trade show and job fair events sector is growing.

2. There is an important US initiative, vGov, which has recently engaged 5 virtual world platforms to look at stability and interoperability across federal agencies. (WebAlive and Australian platform Vast Park are two of them). I imagine part of the reason Second Life Enterprise was overlooked was because of its limited number of API’s; it has only four.

Augmented reality apps. via smart phones, in which data will be layered over or embedded into  the physical world, is set to ignite  the popular imagination, and the shake-down in virtual worlds as they are traditionally understood to be (desk based, cartoonish simulations enhanced by  rich media) will continue…

However,  none of the lessons of the last seven years since Second Life went public will be lost. It, and other digital worlds are  all part of the same big digital soup; the diffusion is not only inevitable, but also a sign of the maturation of the sector.

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