Running the Numbers on Second Life

There has been a lot of debate lately about how many people are actually using Second Life on a regular basis, along with a fair amount of criticism of Linden Labs for not being very transparent about the population numbers. This is only important from the perspective that SL is being pitched as a place, virtual or not that’s what it is, that companies should establish a presence in, an example of this is the Second Life Reuters Bureau.

As for me, my First Life takes up enough time that I have precious little for Second Life. I tend to try everything so I do have a Second LIfe profile but the curve to get up and going was sufficiently steep (meaning I had to read something) that I never bothered to get past signing up.

The link below has an interesting analysis of the SL numbers and how much money people are spending in the virtual world.

The TNL.net weblog » Running the Numbers on Second Life:

So, it looks that, under the most conservative growth rate, we will see 3.5 million users registered and over 600,000 using the service by the end of April 2007. Under a liberal interpretation of the data, those numbers would shift to 9.6 million and just under 7 million. However, in the most likely case, it is probable that there will be 7.2 million users registered with 1.6 million logging in over the previous sixty days. Not too shabby. For the sake of planning, I would advise my readers to go with the most conservative estimate because my data set is still relatively small. Even then, this type of growth mirrors some of the growth patterns we’ve seen in the early days of the commercial web and seem to support the contention that LindenLab is going to be a very strong player in the future.

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BigContacts, a good lightweight SFA solution

My first reaction to seeing BigContacts was “how could you build a business off contact management” almost immediately forgetting that some very successful products (ACT!) have done just that.

Note to self: always remember that it’s not the product feature set that makes the product but the context by which it is rendered to users.

Contact management is not a business, it is a lever that is pulled to give utility to applications. For example, the emerging killer feature in gmail is the address book that is compiled as you use it, which is then repurposed to the other applications, like Calendar, to give Google a legitimate competitor to Outlook.

For BigContacts the SFA opportunity for low SMB is ripe for picking because the dominant products for sales professionals at this level are long in the tooth and backed by companies not known for pushing any envelope when it comes to extending them in innovative ways.

I’m not referring to Salesforce.com, which is obviously a dominating player here as well but their price points and broader functional footprint mean they still fit the “M” part of SMB better than the “S” part of the market. It’s not a criticism, just an observation.

I’ve been using BigContacts and generally like it, although I would say that the UI could withstand some streamlining but want to emphasize that it’s not a bad UI and I would be remiss in not pointing out that this is a beta release as well. In using it I was reminded of one of my favorite blog posts titled trying something versus using something.

This is exactly the kind of service that Teqlo is built to hook into rather than building contact mgmt components from scratch. I immediately saw a great opportunity to build some components that pulled data from and feed into BigContacts. This is where the “context” part of everything comes together because while BigContacts could build to the obvious opportunities such as a solution for real estate professionals, what about the less obvious ones like home inspectors who are also in the real estate vertical but need a unique solution?

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Apple is giving Jobs a free pass, critics say

The critics are coming out about how Apple handled the stock option backdating investigation involving Steve Jobs. Of course Jobs got off easy but this goes back to the post I made yesterday about how the CEO’s role in a public company has changed; one example of success in this new era is Steve Jobs because not only does he manage Wall St. deftly but he also has a cult-like following among customers and employees (who despite his many well publicized management style issues is someone who inspires confidence and loyalty).

It also helps that the person who led the investigation on behalf of the board is former vice president Al Gore, who largely has the perception on honesty and integrity.

In the end the critics are probably right that Jobs got off easy because he IS Apple Computer right now, and we’ll still buy their products and love them, Wall St. will still trade the stock up, and in a year this will largely be forgotten. Jobs is the benevolent dictator that we are willing to give a lot of latitude to because we get so much out of him in return.

The one wildcard that remains is the federal investigation but this whole backdating issue is really quite complicated and doesn’t capture the public’s imagination like “cooking the books” in previous corporate scandals.

MercuryNews.com | 01/05/2007 | Apple is giving Jobs a free pass, critics say:

“Apple’s board deserves an `F’ for how it has handled its backdating investigation,” said Lynn Turner, managing director of research at Glass Lewis, a firm that advises investors on corporate governance and accounting issues.

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