Facebook ‘likes’ Second Life, High Fidelity and buys both

Some critics wonder about what will happen with OpenSimulator, in the wake of this announcement, and fear that Zuckerberg will start suing all OpenSimulator-based grids. I don’t think that will be the case. Instead, the “New Second Life” will be so amazingly different from the current SL/OpenSimulator — even though it will have the same content — that OpenSimulator will not be a “threat” to Zuckerberg. Or, in a more impressive demonstration of Zuckerberg’s “over-reaching assimilation”, he might even provide OpenSimulator grids with the same kind of APIs and SDKs and whatnot that he might offer to game development companies — effectively allowing “external” grids to “merge” into the Facebook Metaverse (i.e. giving them the ability to get their content also visible through the future HF viewers, as long as they agree to abide to some kind of Facebook ToS), something we all hoped that would happen with Second Life and existing OpenSimulator girds, but quickly figured out that it would never become reality. Zuckerberg might now prefer to have as many allies as possible, instead of shutting eventual “small fry” out of his new vision.

Seriously, I wouldn’t like to be in Google’s shoes at this time. They blew their chance with Lively, and who knows what Google Glasses might actually mean for Google. Apple, of course, ignores all that — they never believed in a marketplace for virtual goods, unless these are music and videos, which they already sell. But apparently even Apple might have plans of their own.

Still, the lesson here is that you cannot create a successful business venture with a virtual goods marketplace merely because you have a nice gadget to provide immersion. Zuckerberg learned that very quickly: you need people, a culture, a social environment. That’s what he’s good at creating. Apple sucks at that, and so does Microsoft, and, while Google is supposed to have learned their lesson (with the failure of Lively, Buzz, Orkut, Google Groups, and merging everything into Google Plus before it’s too late), it’s still unknown if they will ever find their way back. But I think that all these companies will wait first to see what Facebook is going to achieve — maybe this will be Facebook’s biggest flops ever, and watching what the stock market says will be interesting. Microsoft and Google can make as many mistakes they like without affecting their share value. Will Facebook be able to do the same? We will see. Will Facebook succeed in creating an immersive virtual environment — the 3D world-wide web — as we have been promised a decade ago? Maybe — I remain a bit skeptic about how this isn’t really a mainstream technology. The truth is, if someone can pull it off, at least for a few years, it’s the combination of Facebook, Linden Lab, High Fidelity, and Oculus VR, all working towards the same goal.

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