Open letter to the BBC

Somehow, it looks like the reporter, Lauren Hansen, had written this article in 2005-7, when the media just loved to pronounce Second Life dead, but was unable to sell it to the BBC back then. She then proceeded to fish it out of her drafts, added a few lines from the interview with M Linden, and just sold it as “news”. Wow. This is NOT the kind of articles with quality and thorough research that we’re used to read/see at BBC!

What happened? Half the article deals with events occurring in 2006/7. None of the 1,400 organisations currently in SL is mentioned, except for IBM, who have been co-developing a lot of technology together with Linden Lab — as well as Intel, Sun, and many others (including Microsoft!). Since the “hype days” of 2007, Second Life grew over three times in size and user base. It’s virtual goods economy, worth half a billion US$ today, used to be 4% of the overall market for digital content in the world — if you include ads as “digital content” 🙂 (if not, probably the figure would be much higher) — more than iPhone Apps (which the media still consider a huge success). Since the introduction of voice communications in Second Life, the platform became one of the top VoIP providers world-wide (Skype is still #1), and their minutes-per-month continue to grow. Facebook, always seen as a huge success, in financial terms, made half in sales as Second Life did last year — which is not too bad — and posted a net loss of “only” US$50 millions. It was flagged as a huge success. Linden Lab has been profitable for several years, and their profits are over US$50 millions annually, growing every year in a very comfortable way. Sooooo…. nothing of that has been referred (not even M Linden’s official statistics) in this article.

Second Life is empty?! At almost every hour of the day, 24 hours a day, it has almost as many simultaneous users as… eBay! Now let’s imagine that eBay, with its hundreds of millions of articles, would show, on each page, how many people are visiting that specific page. The vast majority of those pages would show “zero visitors” during most of the time of the day (that’s a good reason why nobody shows visitors-per-page 🙂 ). The same applies to Second Life, which is *huge* in size, but users remain on a limited number of regions. If all users were evenly spaced among all regions, each would have, on average, 2 users/region (in reality, users are clumped together on the more popular places). If the same would happen on eBay… there would be perhaps one visitor per every 1,000 pages/items!! Now *that’s* empty! Nevertheless, it has about the same number of user-to-user transactions as Second Life, with a huge difference: the amount being transacted is way above SL’s average, and, as a result, eBay’s marketplace economy, in absolute US$ numbers, is quite above SL’s. But that’s just because products listed in SL are several orders of magnitude cheaper…

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