Tonya Souther, a leading developer for the Phoenix Viewer, a third party viewer for Second Life that's far more popular than the official SL viewer, on her blog suggests that future development of Phoenix may be in peril. This is due to some recent technical changes Linden Lab is making to future viewer development, which she also explains in the post, but the upshot for her is this:
[W]hat I'm about to say is my own personal opinion, and not that of the Phoenix Viewer Project. The group has not made any decisions yet. To me, it's time to say that we are not going to put any more effort into Phoenix... As far as I'm concerned, it's time to put Phoenix to rest. The developers don't like working in the codebase, as in many ways it's an unmaintainable tissue of hacks, the support team barely remembers how to run it, and Firestorm now provides essentially all of the function Phoenix has and much more besides. Read it all here. If I'm reading right, Phoenix fans will have to transition to Firestorm, the most updated version of the Phoenix Viewer Project viewers, which may make some Phoenix fans' phlegm fly.
Get a good look at the Second Life Community Convention banner above, because it looks like the last you'll see -- citing unspecified "changes in the terms of the contract offered by Linden Lab this year", past SLCC producer AvaCon has passed on producing another SLCC this year. Given that wording, it sounds like Linden Lab was making some significant demands to AvaCon to guarantee the company's continued participation. I'm personally sad to see SLCC cancelled (and have a lot of warm memories of SLCCs past), but it's hard to be surprised that it won't go on:
With the almost complete erosion of enterprise/large organization participation in Second Life in the last couple years, SLCC lost potential registrations from people who could get their attendance covered by their employers, or at least written off as a business expense. That leaves SL entrepreneurs and hardcore SL fans as potential attendees, but asking them to spend $1500 or more on registration/travel/hotel while we're still amid a recession seems like a non-starter.
But the real problem, I think, is that Linden Lab has lost any real interest in being involved with the user community. Still enormously profitable, the company could easily defray most costs associated with a real world convention with the amount of revenue it makes from SL in a few days. At some point, the company decided there wasn't enough ROI around SLCC, which is probably true from a strict revenue perspective. But it seems to me it would still be a worthwhile investment in the SL brand (which is tarnished) and its hardcore customer base (which is still engaged, if floundering).
Courtesy Louis Platini's Metaverse Business, a Second Life/OpenSim analytics company that gathers publicly accessible in-world data for its clients, here's the top 25 most popular SL sims from last month, listed according to their average avatar visitor count at any given period:
Warning: Despite Linden Lab's prohibition against traffic-gaming bots, several sims are often reported to be full of them. (Somewhat ironically, Metaverse Business' traffic-counting bots cannot detect the world's traffic-gaming bots.)
As I often ask with these reports, anyone been to any of these that are worth the 15-20 minute effort that a visit often requires?