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Reader Comments (14)

Posted: Jul 9th 2008 10:10PM (Unverified) said

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Tateru, you're absolutely right on this! It's the major problem right now: not that Lively becomes a serious competitor to, uh, well, *anything* (Google managed to launch the worst Web-embedded-3D-chatroom in the last four years...), but that the media, *just because it's Google*, will be tremendously disappointed that "virtual worlds" are... just low-rez cartoons with outrageously stupid animations that move sofas around 3D rooms.

What this means for the "Metaverse Roadmap" I have no idea. I fear, however, that Google might just have killed the Metaverse. Worse than that — I fear that they've killed it *deliberately*. Because, you see, in my mind this *could* be a Gates-class devious plan for Google to make sure that their 'monopoly' on indexing web pages remains a monopoly. Planning long-term, it means that Web pages *have* to be around. For decades. Replacing them with interactive, immersive, contiguous, photo-realistic virtual worlds would put Google out of a job.

Launching something that actually ridicularises the whole virtual world hype of the past 5 years is a perfect strategy. Google will continue to dominate the HTML 2D world without fear of losing that battle. And, oh, Lively can only improve. With time. If not, well, they can drop the whole idea (or bury it, like Orkut) and just claim "it was all a mistake". By then, both the media and the mainstream will have abandoned all hopes and wishes of creating virtual worlds.

We'll see. I obviously hope that I'm totally wrong, and that "the company that does no evil" is actually just naive and mostly harmless, and Lively was the best they could come up with in three years of secret work.

Somehow, that doesn't sound right.

Posted: Jul 9th 2008 10:58PM (Unverified) said

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I hate to say "I told ya so" to Linden Lab. Well, no I don't either. Not only I, but dozens of other analysts and techs have warned of this day for the last four years.

Linden Lab has without doubt not only alienated hundreds of thousands of potential customers... they have made thousands of actual enemies in the process. As stated in a recent SL Blog post, their Premium User membership has dropped 7% during the last 7 months. That's 1% per month. Such does not bode well; its' the Premium users that pay the bills.

There are now some 20,000 sims on Second Life. But there is a concurrency of 50,000 to 60,000 users. That comes to what... 3 people per sim? That does that foretell? Second Life is currently a profitable ghost town. The question is... how long will it remain profitable?

Does Linden Lab really expect people to continue paying $295 for sims stacked four to a server when the VR world starts expanding? When people can finally host their own worlds and get out from the historically apathetic thumb of Linden Lab, does the CEO really believe they will loyally stick to the company who has stuck it to them all these years?

I unfortunately (or fortunately) have to agree with the author. It strikes me most interesting that Philip Linden has chosen this particular time to turn over the steering wheel to a new CEO. In the business world, one of the primary reasons for doing so is so the old CEO isn't at the wheel when the ship sinks.


Posted: Jul 9th 2008 11:02PM (Unverified) said

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Or in a far-fetched speculation, Google is looking at Microsoft (and check out its Sony relationship lately).

LL should be worried, and looking at the basic-ness of Lively is the wrong place to look (unless you bring up cartoony things like the, what are they called, oh yeah, Nintendo Miis). :)

There's far more going on here than what day-one geeks proclaim as win or fail.

Posted: Jul 9th 2008 11:10PM (Unverified) said

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I don't mind the disconnected rooms in Lively. It's not too different from the disconnected islands. Having the lands connected on mainland rarely adds any value anyways.

If Lively opens up user creation and scripting, I'll be all over it. Am I the only one that's annoyed by the lack of comparable alternatives to Second Life?

Posted: Jul 9th 2008 11:16PM (Unverified) said

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(BTW just to clarify... I'm not advocating Lively, nor condemning it. I am pointing out that the big companies are becoming aware of the potential of VR... the potential that Linden Lab policy has missed. LL could have been the MicroSoft of VR. Instead, I fear they have missed the boat. Without some serious policy changes and some serious price dropping, I don't foresee them surviving the "new internet" that is about to come).

Posted: Jul 9th 2008 11:40PM (Unverified) said

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I, for one, am glad that virtual worlds are moving forward with or without Linden Labs.

Posted: Jul 10th 2008 12:08AM (Unverified) said

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I see a much bigger threat in Sun's Wonderland. LL's present focus seems to be on exactly the type of users that Wonderland is targetting right now: education and corporations. And, personally, I see much more potential in Wonderland for that type of users. Education doesn't need to be on the grid and corporations would DEFINITELY NOT want to be on the grid for their internal use (IMO, internal use is right now the most interesting application for corporations). Also, Wonderland offers exactly the practical features that are required by such users, without all the other "fluff and distractions".

LL's hopes may reside in interoperability. That may bring both a large number of users through cross-use and revenue from enabling the said interoperability (although it may also end up being a cost for LL).

Posted: Jul 10th 2008 10:20AM (Unverified) said

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M's reply is certainly a response to Lively--as much as Lively is a response to SL. Key design differences show that Google is aiming for a mega, inter-galatic audience:

* can use your name, id whatevery you want --so it can be part of you online persona and "not a second life".
* is browser plug-in (although is 10mb really a plug-in or a application?) but it is meant to co-pilot browsing experience and I can imagine how it be able to trigger web pages nicely
* it is dumbed-down interface--is attractive to newbies and techno-phobes (= all dem people finally on social media sites, but can't handle 3D navigation)
* It will get massive, global enrollment as part of the googleverse. 500,000 users of SL is nada in comparison--14mm reg, I bet Google gets 20mm by end of the year or even more.

Community is not just about visual experience, it is about a shared experience with people--google already has that credibility, the global distribution and marketing muscle via youtube (which works well inside lively btw)

The game just changed. If LL was surprised, well yet another example of their head up/in there own codebase.

Posted: Jul 10th 2008 10:22AM (Unverified) said

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ps...Lively has their own growing pains to deal with also!
http://groups.google.com/group/lively-help-sign-inaccess-issues/browse_thread/thread/4cc4e447f2139744

hope you all luckier then me trying to get into a blank little Lively room!

Posted: Jul 10th 2008 1:42PM (Unverified) said

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In the short run Lively is also an opportunity. LL needs to find a way to reach and market itself to the percentage of new Lively users who are capable of handling 3D navigation and the multi-layered interface of SL -- people hungry for more.

That would be a whole lot of people new to VW's who will quickly realize that GooogleWorld is so limited and limiting. How can LL reach that segment within Lively?

LL is increasingly being pulled hard in many directions. But they should first prioritize repairing the glaring, growing disconnect with their userbase and their natural advocates by responding far more aggressively to the biggest typical customer complaints. Maybe that means hiring more employees skilled at listening. That is their best possibility to keep and grow market share.

I hope they listen.

Posted: Jul 10th 2008 2:00PM (Unverified) said

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Eladrienne on Plurk: 'Lively made me appreciate SL a helluva lot more!'

=D

Posted: Jul 10th 2008 6:57PM (Unverified) said

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What I personally 'fear' is that the whole mainstream — specially people that never saw a virtual world before, eg. 2 billion Internet users, or perhaps just the 250 million Google Account registered users — and see Lively and go: "oh, so that's a virtual world? BORING! I can't understand the hype about it." and never give anything else a try.

I mean, if Google's product is the worst example of a virtual world ever created, and if that's what a first-time VW user ever sees, what kind of impression will they have?... They won't ever try anything else.

In fact, I haven't seen a single "VW newbie" on Lively yet. From the list of rooms you can see that they're all part of the 60 million MMOG/MMORPG/social 3D world crowd — experienced users, all of them, on any of the hundreds or thousands of existing platforms. And my, aren't they unimpressed... but they have elsewhere to go.

"Utter newbies" will not have that luck. They'll believe that they're logging in to the Ultimate Virtual World, the one done by "the company that does no evil". If their experience is bad, they'll just delete the plugin and forget about virtual worlds... forever.

Posted: Jul 10th 2008 10:04PM (Unverified) said

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I've played around with Lively and i think it has a lot of potential.

Posted: Jul 11th 2008 12:50AM (Unverified) said

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Lively absolutely is a competitor. Some people use SL as a casual chat interface, or spend a lot of their time in SL doing that, and Lively may be a better choice for that.

When Walmart comes to town they don't kill off the fabric stores by selling everything they do. They kill them by selling the basics, siphoning off those customers. A fabric store that turns a slim profit becomes a money-losing enterprise. It doesn't matter that Walmart isn't a viable alternative for those products.

Lively will siphon off some of SL's customers. Probably not the biggest and most profitable customers, but they'll take enough to make two things happen. First, SL will have fewer sociable people and will be less interesting. Second, they'll give Google resources to keep improving Lively.

LL would have to be totally daft to not take this very seriously.

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