Yesterday I posted a link to Gwyneth Llewelyn’s April Fool’s Joke. Today Gwyneth posts that she was in fact joking. See: Yes, yes, it was a prank! She includes more material for our nightmares. But, this time she is putting things in some perspective. I think this article reveals some of the real possibilities ahead and good reasons for them.
For one thing, she points out that Kitely might be a better choice for acquisition. And she points out that Facebook might be better off using OpenSim, as Kitely does, and adding in Intel’s DSG framework, which allows a region to handle thousands of concurrent users. The mix of large crowd handling and run-on-demand-scaling is certainly something I imagine the Facebook managers would like.
Gwyneth does miss one point. She thinks Kitely/Facebook would need to develop a Oculus Viewer. That is not the case. CtrlAltStudio and Firestorm have an Oculus Rift almost ready viewer in open source. The only missing part is a polished user interface. Remember. CtrlAltStudio’s David Rowe is helping the Firestorm team now. This only shifts some of Gwyneth’s points. But, I think it shows the use of open source software more likely for Facebook.
If Facebook sees the Virtual Worlds like the Internet and itself as some type of hosting company or service provider, FB may decide selling the virtual-world-making software is not where the money is. Selling the people to see YOUR virtual world is where the money is. Finding ways to attract people is what FB is about.
In Second Life we hear complaints about the high cost of tier. But, SL is not selling land. They have eyes, people, and that is what they sell.
If FB see it the same way, they may inject cash into OpenSim for development or write code and donate it. FB may become a real estate broker similar to Kitely. Cheap regions and free starter regions along with something like the mainland we have in Second Life. The viewers we have now, those will be for the builders. They will be sort of like Dreamweaver is for web designers. FB will make a simple to use free viewer much like Firefox, Chrome, or… ugh… Internet Explorer. Or they just may make an interface that uses existing Internet browsers, sort of a Cloud Party thing.
While this scenario eliminates the buyout of Second Life it leaves us with serious competition. What does SL have that other worlds won’t have? Well, the big thing, no pun intended, is sex. But, sex might not be that big an advantage. However, sex in other MMO’s is pretty lame compared to sex in SL. So, I think the level of sex in SL is far ahead of most other MMO’s.
It will be interesting to see which way FB goes. The original idea for FB, as I hear it, was to help college students hookup. But, to what level does one go with blatant sex? Does one keep it behind closed doors as IMVU tries to? Or allow it to find its own place like SL does? SL took more of RL approach to sex, in some ways. In RL you have red light districts. SL is the same. No sex in the streets like San Francisco. There are places for sex and places where it can get you in trouble with the authorities. Which would FB choose?
Big money is in advertising and sales. Virtual Reality is going to be a big step up in presenting products on the web. We have seen companies trying to move their RL stores to the web. A 2D web just doesn’t do it. One of the automotive sites I built used images from a service company that photographs every new vehicle made and renders a 3D virtual image you can side around, sit in, and examine in detail. I expect the company to jump on virtual reality in a big way and provide a similar service, using VR, to the big car manufacturers.
Is FB going to try and get there first? I doubt they will go to the effort to photograph and build in all the products that could be sold more effectively with VR. But, they could well provide the place where it is easy to display products and expose them to millions of eyes.
This all boils down to what will entice us to come look at things for sale. That is the free market driving technology. To a large extent VR has languished because there is no commercial incentive to invest. In a stagnating economy there is nothing in VR to gain politicians votes, so there is no investment of tax dollars. But, if you can sell a game and that creates technology that can sell products, suddenly billions of dollars flow into the system. None of which were taken by coercion. Freedom.
We have no way to KNOW what FB is thinking or will do, other than basically whatever it wants. But, the forces that will shape FB’s actions are shaping up. That should give us some ideas as to what we should be doing and what to expect.
Take some time to read Gwyneth’s latest. It has more considerations than I touched on.