The team at LAUNCH published two interesting pieces on Second Life lately. The first one was a report on the annual revenue being around $100 million which is not bad for a company that has been declared dead by many, including myself, over the past months.
Today LAUNCH dug a bit deeper into the virtual world / social network and interviewed Rod Humble, the new CEO of Second Life. Since he joined the company in January 2011 it looks as if he has brought Second Life back on the track with 16k of users signing up per day and having the company’s financially most successful quarter in Q1 2011.
So, what happened? First of all, Second Life streamlined its sign up process. Before the change a potential user had to complete 10 steps before being able to log into the service, now there are only three steps left. The day the new process went live, completed sign ups increased by 50%.
The other issue that I described as the “Vanilla Sky Effect” back on KirstenWinkler.com where new users simply don’t know how to navigate the different islands or always tend to land on deserted places has been solved by a new destination guide that lets users choose different locations sorted by categories rather than poking around on a huge map.
Also note worthy: Linden Lab will launch a “light” version of Second Life targeted for tablet users with a more game like experience.
Second Life also introduced new privacy settings as Rod Humble believes there will be an increase in privacy awareness amongst Internet users in the coming years. The idea is to offer a complementary experience to established social networks like Facebook or Google+ where users are forced to use their real identity. Second Life wants to
“…embrace your right to be whoever you want to be. I think it’s a very healthy thing.”
Of course, I wanted to know if Languagelab.com, the company behind English City will be profiting from these changes and if there is going to be an iPad version of their virtual city available, as well. So I wrote those questions to Shiv Rajendran, Director of Operations at Languagelab.
First of all, Shiv thinks that the real measure of success will be retention of new users. How many of the 16k per day will still be there and using the service a few months later?
“Previously most new users that created avatars left because they did not know what to do next. Linden Labs have made lots of changes to addresses this; time will tell if they are successful.”
He also doesn’t think that these changes will affect Languagelab.com in the short term at all as their users don’t use the Second Life sign-up process, the standard viewer nor the orientation islands.
“We have built our own sign-up process, which nearly 100% of students complete. The experience once they get into the 3d world has also been completely streamlined to get students speaking English as soon as they arrive.”
To date, less than 1% of Languagelab.com’s students have been existing Second Life users. But of course Shiv thinks that if the non-English Speaking population on Second Life increases it will eventually be good for Languagelab.com in the long-term.
“We have also hired a lot of great people from the Second Life community, so an increase in the talent pool will be a very good thing.”
Alternative viewers for different platforms, such as tablets, are on Languagelab’s road map but they won’t happen in the near future.