Thursday, 19 August 2010

Nebraska is dead, Long live OpenSim

Its "kinda" official

The much expected death of Linden Labs "Nebraska" their "behind" firewall solution was sort of announced at SLCC last week. Along with the death of the teen grid.

So first let me talk about Nebraska. Great concept, in fact Second Places were in the running with one of our clients to be in the beta running. However the cost for a beta product and what was and wasn't possible made us run a mile, and I'm sure we were not the only ones.

Again I KNOW there were development companies who after the launch of the beta still persuaded their clients to shell out 50,000 USD even though a good developer would look at the problems (locked down database, buy the actual hardware, etc) and know it had a finite shelf life.

Again I hope the companies that did purchase it and likely spent many, many more thousands on the developers are not now totally allergic to Virtual Worlds having been bitten REAL baddly. But I bet they won't be in a rush to use it again.

The concept of a behind firewall solution was only part of the problem. Businesses didn't want ANOTHER log in, or the inability to modify the back end to fit with their already in place software. But alas who ever advised Linden Labs just said "You know what business want? They want Second Life and they want to host it themselves!". They (and they know who they are) were just wrong!

When Nebraska was going into Alpha/Beta stage Second Life was already the hated love child of the internet, in the eyes of the media. Companies had spent millions and now most were waving their hands as they couldn't get what they wanted. They wanted proof that their investment was not just money to an advertising firm but money to an advertising firm that could prove people were influenced. All businesses got was, "there were 500 people on your island today! Isn't that great?", the business looked excited "Yeah that is awesome, where were they from? What age were they? " and the developer would look glum and say " well, we don't have that information!". The business would start to look depressed, "oh well that is kind of key to what we wanted, but you can tell us how long each person stayed!", by this point the developer is looking out the window for the next chump, sorry customer.

The above is why certain companies target certain TV shows. Beer companies love sports shows as they know the demographics of who watch sports is the demographics they want to promote to. They know when a new advertising campaign starts and they know how it has effected sales. With Second Life it was just publicity, and like your very own 15 minutes of fame, once its over its over, keep flogging it and you will become a laughing stock!.

So Linden Labs released a product that was just something that was already dead for the marketers. But it could have still be useful for what we seen as core market to Virtual Worlds:-
  • Collaboration,
  • Education,
  • Simulation.
But by not allowing us access to the database we couldn't modify the back end to fit into the customers VLE (Virtual Learning Environments - nothing VIRTUAL about them, they just web pages). So we advised our clients not to use it.

Other developers embraced it with full hands open. Even had a "partnerships" with Linden Labs. This was the point when I decided that Second Places was going to persuade all our clients to move to another platform.

Linden had always been hands off with developers, happy to promote but were always at arms distance. With the launch of Nebraska they embraced a single developer, both shared the key note at one of the "Virtual World" conferences. And we were made to look like a second class company as we were now competing with a Linden partner.

So we quickly moved to OpenSim.

OpenSim is a product where we can pass information easily from any 3rd party application into a virtual world instantly. We can move avatars around using RFI tags from real life peoples locations. We can do everything that Second Life could do. But most of all, we could offer Service Level agreements. And the customers came running.

So as OpenSim takes off even more, Expect a new blog about our new "deal" for school who are on the Teen Grid soon, Linden have withdrawn from the Secondary Education Level (11-18) and have withdrawn from the Private Virtual World market and so they should, they have a great product in the Public Virtual World market, and good luck to them in that.

But OpenSim has the private virtual worlds all sown up.

So its Goodbye Nebraska, good idea, badly advised setup and cost. Goodbye Teen Grid, bad for educators as it was too restrictive.

And its hello FUTURE!

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