Linden Lab has announced that it is currently averaging one billion voice-minutes per month. That's time actively engaged in a voice session, not just time spent with voice support enabled. That's quite a statistic. That puts Second Life's voice service right up there among the top VoIP providers, and around 12% of Skype. That's very impressive.
In the 18 months since voice was introduced, roughly 15 billion voice-minutes have been served, through Vivox's voice services for Second Life. Additionally there are new products/services. Some available from today, and some scheduled for later this year.
SLim, the offline voice/text messaging client for Second Life from Vivox will be getting a new version today. We've been using the new version ourselves for the last couple of days, and it has fixed most of the complaints we had about it. It seems much smoother and more reliable, and to synchronize much better with what is actually happening on the grid.
Also today is Avaline, which starts as a beta today, and becomes a monetized service in Q3 this year. Avaline, simply, allows someone to call in and establish a voice session with your avatar from a land-line or mobile phone anywhere.
It's the first of the monetized voice services. Monetized how? "AvaLine will be the first voice feature to be monetized after the Beta. AvaLine will be monetized by charging (in L$) for reserving an extension for your avatar. There is no per call fee, and callers will not be charged unless they need to make a long distance call into the access number. The L$ fee for this can be set to renew (or lapse) on a monthly or annual basis. The annual L$ fee will be 20-25% cheaper than buying 12 months."
As yet, it is a bit early to say about where access numbers might eventually be located.
Coming in the second half of the year:
- Voice fonts for Second Life voice. "French Woman, Sports Announcer, Elf, A.M. Radio, etc" -- unfortunately, in our experience, voice fonts work best for teens and pre-teens, and poorly for adults due to the pitch and timbre of their voices.
- SLim-to-SMS: Which basically allows you to send SMS text messages from the SLim client to any SMS-enabled phone.
- Client-side recording: Definitely a boon for many, particularly educators and enterprise users. Second Life users will be able to record voice chat for playback later.
Even more features have been announced for 2010, including conference calls, group text/voice chat (via SLim) and browser-based voice applets on the Second Life Web-site.
As yet, no pricing information has been finalized for the new products, but SLim itself looks to be free for the foreseeable future.
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