It really seems like prediction season started again. I also found 10 predictions by read/writeweb about what to expect in the next 10 years. Of course these topics are not new. But they will be the main focus of what to expect from „digital“ in the future:
1. Semantic Web
2. Artificial Intelligence
3. Virtual Worlds
5. Attention Economy
6. Web Sites as Web Services
7. Online Video / Internet TV
8. Rich Internet Apps
9. International Web
All are more or less relevant for digital marketing. But especially points 4., 5., 7., and 10. should require our focus. I think these are the most relevant things that will drive the biggest changes to digital marketing in the future. Read the background to these here.
Now this might well unsettle Second Life: Entropia has licensed the Crytek 2 Engine. I have already written about Crytek 2 in March, it offers the most fascinating graphics I have seen in a computer game! You can click through to golem.de to see what I mean.
Funnily enough I wrote back then:
I wish second life was only nearly as realistic as anything the new cryengine can show!
Well, it looks like Entropia made the race…
The Second Life Boom couldn’t have lasted forever. Everyone knew that. At least now you won’t find anyone who didn’t know it all along. Seems like everyone was right. Now there are the first signs of companies leaving Second Life. Some are trying new worlds, some just leave it at that.
The LA Times has a story about the US companies starting to have second thoughts:
„There’s not a compelling reason to stay,“ said Brian McGuinness, vice president of Aloft, a brand of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. that is closing its Second Life shop and donating its virtual land to the nonprofit social-networking group TakingITGlobal.
But the sites of many of the companies remaining in Second Life are empty. During a recent in-world visit, Best Buy Co.’s Geek Squad Island was devoid of visitors and the virtual staff that was supposed to be online.
The schedule of events on Sun Microsystems Inc.’s site was blank, and the green landscape of Dell Island was deserted. Signs posted on the window of the empty American Apparel store said it had closed up shop.
On the other hand, many companies had trouble finding something of added value to present in the virtual world:
For some advertisers, the problem is that Second Life is a fantasyland, and the representations of the people who play in it don’t have human needs. Food and drink aren’t necessary, teleporting is the easiest way to get around and clothing is optional. In fact, the human form itself is optional.
Which is especially frustrating, if you’re just in it because you wanted that publicity:
most firms were more interested in the publicity they received from their ties with Second Life than in the digital world itself. „It was a way to brand themselves as being leading-edge,“ he said.
I know exactly what they mean. I had quite a few clients asking us about Second Life. What it is, and what they could do in there. Some even asked, whether it actually makes sense to move in there. For some companies there is a lot they can provide in this digital world that is of added value. Some might not have the right product, but had a good idea. And some might better not move in-world in the first place.
Now some US companies that did move in with whatever approach, are reversing their strategy.
But, as this article of German Newspaper „Die Welt“ says, two of the most active German companies in Second Life are still content to stay:
„Momentan bestehen keine PlÃ¤ne, sich aus Second Life zurÃ¼ckzuziehen“, so Oliver BrÃ¼ggen, Sprecher von Adidas […] Seit der InselerÃ¶ffnung im September 2006 verkaufte Adidas monatlich 2700 Schuhpaare im Second-Life-Shop und verzeichnete im Schnitt 9000 Besucher.
(„There are currently no plans to move out of Second Life, says Oliver BrÃ¼ggen of Adidas. Since opening their shop in 2006, Adidas has sold 2700 pairs of shoes per month and had around 9.000 visitors per month“)
Auch DaimlerChrysler will weiterhin mit seiner Marke Mercedes Benz in Second Life vertreten bleiben. „Wir sind sehr zufrieden mit den Besucherzahlen. Das Ziel unseres Auftritts in Second Life ist, in direkten Dialog mit der Zielgruppe zu treten“, betont Susanne Klauser
DaimlerChrysler will also stay within Second Life with their brand Mercedes Benz. „We are very satisfied with the number of visitors. The objective of our presence is to engage in a dialogue with our target audience“, emphasizes Susanne Klauser
(Translation is mine, please let me know if something is incorrect.)
I wonder just for how long they’ll stay. Because in general, the first indicators of a slowdown in user growth and activity rate are appearing:
Between May and June, the population of active avatars declined 2.5%, and the volume of U.S. money exchanged within the world fell from a high of $7.3 million in March to $6.8 million in June.
What’s should be even more concerning: users seem to be flocking on to other platforms, testing them. Since Second Life is not really the best in terms of graphics and performance, there might soon be a better offer around the corner. And users might act in a swarm like behaviour and move on to the next tree. Worlds such as Entropia Universe and There.
I just wonder, with all that hype around facebook, if it isn’t time for a facebook application that offers you the social components of facebook (especially enabling to keep you current contact list) in a 3D virtual world? Wouldn’t that be neat? And for my sake, please also include netvibes in that offer!
Steve Rubel writes about communities – online or offline, virtual or real, and there is one key point that I really agree with:
This is just the beginning, however. The most exciting moments will come when online communities are increasingly used to foster offline connections. That’s the big idea behind Meetup.com, for example, and why it’s thriving. It’s also why eBay Live and Gnomedex (and soon Techcrunch 20) are very successful events.
At Reuters there is a story of IBM moving into virtual worlds such as Second Life – with a considerable budget:
IBM is ramping up its push into virtual worlds with an investment of roughly $10 million over the next 12 months, including an expanded presence within the popular 3D online universe Second Life.
Now that is scary. Considering the still relatively small size of SecondLife, such an investment seems enormous. On the other hand, people already spend almost $1 mio. per day. (I had to check twice, coz I couldn’t believe it!) And who knows how much they’ll really spend in Second Life?
Apparently they have been active in this space already:
IBM has already established the biggest Second Life presence of any Fortune 500 company. It uses the world primarily for training and meetings but has also built a simulation of the Wimbledon tennis tournament.
One thing I found interesting, as further on they write about the adoption of VR within the regular internet user base:
„The essence of e-commerce today is built around the idea of catalogs. That’s very useful, it fits with the idea of Web pages and catalog pages, but most people don’t think of shopping in terms of catalogs and pages, but in terms of stores that they go into,“ said IBM chief technology strategist Irving Wladawsky-Berger.
Well, I don’t necessarily agree with what Irving is hinting at. Switching on the computer and logging on to a virtual world still isn’t the same as visiting a real store to go shopping. Not with todays user interfaces anyway, which lack 3D presentation and have no haptic sensation at all.
But I am sure we will get there. It’s just a matter of T&T (time&technology), as always. And most likely we’ll someday smile when we look back at the days when we had to surf the net with screens, mice and keyboards, moving in a two-dimensional space with most of the content displayed in writing. I hope I will remember to link back to this post, once this has become reality.