Mercedes (B) Enz SL Adventure
In skimming the blogosphere a post caught my eye, which read: Mercedes-Benz ends Second Life test run with positive findings.
The article in question was posted earlier today on the Mercedes Benz SL blog which had been quiet since august 2007. Seeing the inactivity at the blog for the last 7 months, this isn't a big surprise, but it doesn't mean Mercedes has been inactive in Second Life during these months.
The remarkable thing that they end their test run with positive findings. The blog reads:
"A little over a year, Mercedes-Benz opened its dedicated presence in the virtual world of ‘Second Life’. Since the launch of the brand’s virtual island, we won several vital insights and received plenty of positive feedback, especially for our unique communications policy. Over the course of the year, our brand avatar ‘Mercedes Milestone’ led more than 10,000 inspired dialogues.
We truly enjoyed developing this new, innovative communications platform and would like to extend our thanks to all those who visited Mercedes-Benz Island and demonstrated interest in our virtual outpost.
Our ‘Second Life’ stint will draw to an end on March 18th 2008 – as of this day, you will no longer be able to access Mercedes-Benz Island. This brief and exciting foray into virtual communities brought us several essential realisations and the conviction that 3D worlds play a vital role as engaging communication channels. We will continue to monitor this theme and keep you updated on any new developments."
Well, Mercedes has new insights. Good for them. It is still a withdrawal from a virtual world, and the umpteenth withdrawal from Second Life which makes it very clear that companies still have a very hard time in making a usefull and persistent presence in a virtual world and that Second Life desperately needs to improve if it wants to play a role as a business platform.
Since august 2006 Second Life has been the premier platform for companies to start experimenting with the Metaverse, which worked for a year or so. It's key attraction point has been the relatively low cost its ease of building and its economy. Due to this immersion Second Life has seen an enormous growth between august 06 and august 07. Since august 07 the corporate exodus has begun as the initial advantages are getting outweighed by its disadvantages, such as:
- Lack of security
- Lack of real collaboration tools
- Lack of interfaces
Take heed Linden Lab
No doubt Linden Lab will state that they're not worried by the exodus of companies. There's still hundreds left, and more coming. Yet these initial pioneers have greatly aided in the growth of Second Life with the attention they received. Linden Lab is probably focussing on making a better world, but if they can't provide for these companies, if they can't make the tools work that companies need then there's only one conclusion possible:
Second Life will degrade to being just another pimped 3D chatroom, a game with bad graphics or a chaotic placeholder for a surplus of user generated content no one needs.