Predictions 3 and 4 were:
- Many new entrants will come… and go.
- Google will release a VW which will be wildly successful, then disappointing, then wildly successful.
These are worth looking at as a group due to the biggest surprise of the year, Google. So let’s see how Google changed the game and how, despite much prognostication, they didn’t.
Now my original post of predictions for SL and virtual worlds has had a year to incubate, its time to see how I scored… hmmmm. (I’ll address these one per post)
1) Linden Lab will experiment with other service providers:
Originally I foresaw LL creating “mini colabs” at international ISP partner locations. I pointed out Australia’s Telstra as a likely early test candidate, as it is a national ISP and telco, was throwing a lot of resources into SL, and a great test candidate on the technical front. Australia is about as far from the USA as possible, so if they could extend their current California-Texas link to Aus and make it work, they could make it work anywhere. (They have a third colab currently at another location but I don’t know anything more about it.. testing servers?)
Well I got it half right, that was their actual strategy it seems, but Telstra is still waiting, and the hosting package they had been promised is about 18 months late. Australia probably started to look like too much of a liability too along the way when it became evident that internet service was so poor that it became an election issue. Singapore is now looking like they’ll get first dibs on a local colab, and as the most broadband connected small nation on the earth they’re a good initial market.
The Lindens are currently alpha testing a “behind the firewall solution” for SL, which means they’ve packaged up the server side so it can be run elsewhere. They have two alpha testers, but of course nobody can tell us who they are for due to confidentiality of course. When it is announced I’d bet a few lindies one of them has telco or ISP interests.
So, did LL experiment with other service providers? From a business perspective yes. It seems they had already quietly laid the business foundation to work with Telstra Australia when I made this prediction. … as far as having any practical outcome from this initiative… maybe not so much. Everyone is still waiting on the tech.
Recently however LL has started making a lot more encouraging noise about the infrastructure required to support a more distributed grid so it would be unsurprising to see announcement about practical non LL hosting initiatives pretty soon.
So I’ll be charitable to myself and say I got this one right. They have obviously laid the business foundation for it, but were let down on practical implementation by the technology. They’ve been working throughout the year though to fill that technology gap so it appears to still be a strategy. Lucky I called it an “experiment” in my prediction … the experiment failed, but it appears they’re still trying 😛
Everyone’s doing it – and I’ve only been vicariously tagged for my “eight things you don’t know about” post. I guess I mighta missed that boat. Nobody reads my blog anyways so I got nothin’ to lose from this weeks obligatory blog post. Here goes – predictions for 2008.
- Linden Labs will experiment with other service providers:
Telstra Australia comes to mind but there’ll be more. My money’s on Japan or Brazil as the folk they want to get on board but my money’s on Australia as the beta.
Folk in the internet industry understand that they need a strong technology partner with a small population so Australia gets used as a beta for phone systems, broadband and other such experiments which often go nowhere. It’s eager and tech-progressive enough to be interesting but small enough to lose should things go pear shaped. LL’s technology partner here has money to burn and is hungry to retain monopoly so they’ll make it attractive to LL.
The lindies already run colabs so they’ll be looking at this from a technology perspective as well. They want to understand how database replication will work transcontinental – their “het grid” project is about making this easier (among other things). Trans-continental colabs will make Cali-Texas seem like a dream. Some sensible engineer at LL will tell them “please don’t do this in Europe or Asia if you want to keep your team” and they’ll take notice. Though I say Aus’ is a good bet here, if your country fits the criteria of progressive but disposable it could be you.
- SL service will continue to improve:
“What what WHAT?!?” you say. You heard me right – things are getting better. Het grid work is like restumping a sagging house. Cracks appear in the walls, things look really bad, the roof leaks, you end up having to spend weeks living at your aunties while the builders do something heinous and scary, etc… I’ve tossed my coin and come up optimistic about this. When the work is done it’ll look a lot better.
The reason I say this is because LL has competition now and they’re obviously tinkering with their team, direction, partnerships, and of course the nuts and bolts. They’re not kids anymore, and not so reactionary – they’re growing up. A year ago anyone in the industry (and it’s not virtual worlds like we think it is, it’s relational database hosting) was shaking their heads in disbelief about how they were doing things. Now they’re not – they may not like performance but they’re not criticising LL’s approach.
This will start to pay off this year in stability and scalability. Naysayers will still say nay, commentators will continue to say “the damage has been done” – but it will be improvement, and it will take more than one damage to break this thing. By years end it will look a lot better.
- Many new entrants will come… and go:
You don’t have to be a massive SL fanboy to realize that the newcomers into this market have a lot of mistakes to make before they get anywhere. LL has made their share of mistakes – heck they’ve made almost every one in the book – but they’re still writing it. Newcomers will avoid some of the mistakes LL has made but most of them will (after initial hype) trip on their shoelace and fall on their face. Some will do quite well thankyou: which brings me to….
- Google will release a VW which will be wildly successful, then disappointing, then wildly successful:
Everything google does these days is “the end of” whatever – as if some lumbering giant could come into the market and eat all the young. Six months to a year later “google office disappointing – will not replace MS office”. Honestly who writes these things? Let me answer that rhetorical question. Pundits write these things, and they’re clueless (though well circulated and paid thanks).Linux is slowly eating MS, OpenOffice is slowly eating MS Office, Apple is slowly eating the record industry – Sony hates this. But all this stuff happens slow enough that they shouldn’t sneak up and take anyone by surprise unless their head’s buried in the sand. Google will do good with their vr eventually, but sketchup hasn’t replaced autocad yet, and neither will google’s launch replace SL.
- Vastpark will do well:
They got some things right – they’ll do ok in the long run. It’ll be slower than fanboys think, but they’re a strong contender with the advantage of developing without too much legacy code. There’s still a content creator vs. resident divide though so we’ll have to wait for some kids raised on counter-strike level design to tinker with it and give anyone a compelling reason to be there.
- A national government and a major corporation will engage in a legal action related to SL and make complete fools of themselves:
Erm… both of those have already happened several times, but the public eye will be watching. If it’s towards the end of the year it may involve another VW on the upswing of it’s hype cycle – watch out google 😛
- Media pundits will coin a new phrase to describe SL and VW’s so they can stop cramming it into the same box as web2.0ish social media:
Well, bloggers will do this, but cheapskate journalists will finally take notice – that’s where they source all their stuff anyways these days. The term “social media” and other vogues in reference to VWs will start to take on the distaste we currently have for terms like “cyberspace” to describe the internets – an outmoded term from the olden days only used by your clueless auntie trying to sound cool, or institutionalised academics writing their fourth doctorate. Discourse on the real impact of virtual worlds and social web applications will be enlivened by this change. It will also help business understand how VW’s fit into their marketing and customer contact model.
- The first SL based internet meme will enter the public vernacular:
YES! WE CAN HAS OUR OWN LOLCATS. Some joke or started in SL will jump ship and turn up in your aunties mailbox, facebook or myspace. It will spread like wildfire. We will briefly fall in love with it as our own, but eventually lose respect and hate it so much we look fondly back at those innocent days of nigerian mail scams and dramatic chipmunk crossposts.
- Health and support for the disabled will be a growth area in SL particularly, and VW’s in general:
This will have mainstream media support… eventually. A series of copycat articles will flood news channels at some point, repainting the model of VW residents from pasty socially bereft young males, to your aunt, sister, grandfather and others who might have non-gamer reasons for being there.
The use of SL by the disabled or infirm to “get out of the house” will be lauded as a positive. The converse, of allowing care givers and counsellors access to those who can’t get to their offices will also be leveraged and publicly documented.
This will be a part of a larger trend to recognize the social value of technologies previously considered isolating – like giving old folk a nintendo wii at their old folks homes, it aint about playing solo quake, it’s about engagement in a group. The public and the media will finally start to “get it”.
This trend will play out in education as well, but the more rigid requirements of the edu arena will mean isolated uptake – not all the tools they need are there yet for widespread adoption outside narrow applications.
Well there’s my predictions for ’08 – in no particular order and so on. I hope you get something out of them, if only waggling your fist and sayin: “That Pav’s got no idea!” I’m sure someone’ll burn a few calories doin that before this post hit’s the wayback machine.
Well happy new year anyways. May it be a good one. Toodle Pip!