Linden Lab, creator of the virtual world Second Life, revealed that it has delivered over 15 billion minutes of voice services, demonstrating the rapid growth and broad adoption of VoIP in Second Life. The company also revealed its product roadmap for the remainder of 2009, such as introducing new features that will enhance the Second Life platform and provide unique monetization opportunities. With 700,000 unique users consuming more than a billion minutes a month, voice has become an integral component of the Second Life experience.
Over 50% of Second Life users, a group that includes a broad range of consumers, educators and large enterprises, use voice as part of their everyday inworld experience. In addition to making education, business meetings, simulations, training and casual conversations more meaningful, realistic and fluid, voice is also a key component of Linden Labâ€™s business model and strategy moving forward. With several key product launches scheduled for the latter half of 2009, Linden Lab expects this rapid adoption to continue while also adding several new revenue streams for the company.
In addition to revealing its roadmap for the rest of the year, Linden Lab is also introducing a new service called AvaLine that enables residents to receive voice calls inworld from an outside number. Greatly extending the reach of the Second Life experience, AvaLine lets friends, customers, colleagues and business associates connect to the Second Life viewer via a landline, cell phone or VoIP application.
Linden Lab, creator of the virtual world Second Life, announced a key milestone in its expansion of the Second Life platform by acquiring two web-based marketplaces for virtual goods, Xstreet SL and OnRez.
These acquisitions join several other recent strategic initiatives, including enhancements to the experience for new users, which will enable Linden Lab to reach a broader global audience for Second Life in 2009. Linden Lab is consolidating the two marketplaces on the Xstreet SL platform, offering one online shopping experience for customers and merchants. This will make it easier for Second Life residents to find virtual goods to purchase and will provide merchants broader channels to sell their products.
In 2008, Residents of Second Life purchased and sold more than USD $360 million of virtual goods and services. Shopping for virtual goods has become one of the most compelling and popular aspects of the Second Life experience. The acquisition of these e-commerce sites will aid the continuing growth of the Second Life economy by making it even more convenient for buyers and sellers to transact virtual goods and services online.
Millions of Us, an agency that specializes in virtual worlds and online communities, is launching Virtual Greats, a new company that will take advantage of the growing popularity of virtual goods. The company also announced that it has secured distribution rights for virtual goods associated with Justin Timberlake, Elvis Presley, Tila Tequila, Snoop Dogg, Paris Hilton, Raven Symone and Marvel’s The Incredible Hulk, across multiple media platforms.
Virtual Greats will be offering its wares across multiple virtual world and social media platforms. The company is entering its first major venture with the massively popular virtual world Gaia Online.
Second Life is now available to mobile devices. Residents can explore the entire virtual world from their handsets via a free beta application available at Vollee, the 3G streaming services provider.
Volleeâ€™s technology intelligently adapts the Second Life Grid for use on 40 mobile handsets at launch. Support is planned soon for additional 3G and Wi-Fi enabled devices, including the iPhone.
Volleeâ€™s proprietary solution is the only technology currently available that can stream high-end PC titles to mobile, including popular massively multiplayer online role playing games. The companyâ€™s VolleeX engine adapts applications for screen size and key layout, and then streams the original application to mobile devices. Volleeâ€™s interactive video streaming platform optimizes compression to minimize bandwidth requirements and also leverages the 3G mobile networks in such a way that gamers can easily and smoothly navigate virtual worlds. Volleeâ€™s technology is also extensible to fast paced, high quality video games previously impossible on mobile.
Disney’s Club Penguin is now offering parents new tools to provide greater control of, and involvement in, their childâ€™s online entertainment experience.
Club Penguinâ€™s new parent features allow adults to logon and view their childâ€™s account history (including any bans and account payments), change their childâ€™s password and choose whether their child can chat by selecting from pre-approved phrases or by typing in their own messages. An integrated timer, which lets parents set the time of day and duration of their childâ€™s visit to Club Penguin, will be released later this month.
Club Penguin recently opened an international office in Brighton, England, dedicated to providing additional player support and moderation. Itâ€™s the first time Club Penguin has offered local support to players outside North America.
Gaia Online is hosting Prom Crashers, the first virtual prom. As part of this event, Project Runway’s Christian Siriano has designed an exclusive line of avatar prom garb to ensure that all Gaians will carry their style during the event. Aside from having the first virtual prom, this event will also be different from the real world event because Prom Crashers will be from May 16 to May 19.
Siriano’s exclusive virtual prom designs will be available in-world for purchase with virtual Gaian currency, Gaia Gold, or with standard U.S. currency, known in-world as Gaia Cash.
Seriously, if you can’t score attendance to a real prom (unless there is an Earth-shaking reason why), I can’t help but feel sad. There are just events in one’s life that can’t be duplicated by doing it virtually.
Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids and Family Group Executive Vice President of Digital Media Steve Youngwood announced a commitment to develop and produce additional virtual worlds, building upon the success of its existing Neopets and Nicktropolis virtual world sites. Virtual worlds based on Nick’s existing animated property — SpongeBob SquarePants — as well as new original properties like Monkey World (working title) are being put into development. In addition, Youngwood announced that a new virtual destination, World of Neopia (working title), is in production and expected to launch in the next year.
The new worlds will be developed out of Nickelodeon Kids and Family Group’s Virtual World Studios (formerly titled NeoStudios, announced in July 2007), which will develop virtual destinations for kids, tweens, teens and families each year, while continuing to innovate upon the company’s existing virtual worlds.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has launched its space, IFAW Island, in Second Life. IFAW Island will serve as a virtual meeting ground for those interested in animal welfare issues.
Coinciding with the island’s launch, IFAW will hold a live concert on Thursday March 27th at 1:00 PM SLT featuring two popular Second Life bands: AngeyLaura Houston aka Laura Angey and the UKD Project from Italy. The concert will take place in IFAW Island’s African Savannah space. The event is open to all Second Life residents, and there is a suggested donation of $100 Linden dollars for which donors will receive a virtual IFAW T-shirt.
IFAW Island offers visitors a virtual African savannah space with species information on elephant populations and background on poaching, illegal trade and migration. Additionally there is a theater presentation space for multimedia campaign updates, a skybox with photo galleries, trade maps and donation tools.
Second Life will soon be available on 3G handsets via Volleeâ€™s streaming mobile games service. Beta trials for Volleeâ€™s new mobile offering for the Second Life Grid platform (an inter-connected platform which extends beyond the mainland of Second Life itself) will be open to those who pre-register.
Volleeâ€™s Second Life mobile service will enable access to the virtual world of Second Life for Residents to explore, interact and communicate on-line. The Second Life mobile experience reformats the online world to fit on mobile phone screens while mapping the keys on handsets to commands in-world. Existing Residents can simply log-in and people new to Second Life can also try out the online world for the first time through the mobile service. With a simple download to their 3G mobile handset, anyone can enjoy their online Second Life session while on the move.
Volleeâ€™s Second Life mobile beta trials will begin in May 2008.
Zwinky,a wholly-owned business of IAC and home to more than 12 million avatars, has launched Zazzle Kiosk within the Zwinky virtual world. The Zazzle Kiosk will enable Zwinky users to purchase customizable merchandise on-demand including t-shirts, mugs, posters, postage stamps, and more, all branded with their personalized Zwinky avatar.
The Zazzle Kiosk makes Zwinky one of the first virtual worlds to give users the opportunity to customize and purchase merchandise for the real world. All merchandise can be created and shipped to the user within 24 hours.
Users who visit the Zazzle Kiosk inside Zwinky’s virtual world can see their avatar automatically displayed on various merchandise items. The user can then choose from saved avatar outfits that they have previously created to display on their merchandise.