The Moore’s Law of Second Life
Moore’s Law is an interesting phenomenon faced by all new technologies and was highlighted by Geoffrey Moore as early as 1991. One well understood method for spanning the chasm is through the application of information. Thus education is key to mass adoption.
As Moore says in ‘Crossing The Chasm’ “the notion that part of what defines a high-tech market is the tendency of its members to reference each other when making buying decisions– is absolutely key to successful high-tech marketing.”
This being the case, the only way to achieve this is by educating the market and ensuring the word is spread – although I have to add here, this is only once you have established ‘who’ your market is. I am not sure that Linden Labs has a clear definition or appreciation of who their market actually is yet?
Establishing the Market
Linden Labs appear keen to adopt anyone who comes across to them. This does not strengthen or focus their initiative. Going off at many tangents dilutes power and lacks direction. To run a race you have to have a specific goal. Intangible end points at various locations simply reduces effectiveness.
One thing I don’t see is a consistent strategy or to put it into popular current business speak ‘a Roadmap’.
Game Play and War Strategies – Follow history
My advice to them would be to watch what happened with the closest business model to theirs, the Internet. It evolved from military and educational use. Banks and Government followed rapidly with their need to connect between nations. Companies and corporations came last. Many who failed to adopt the Internet early enough, found their market being stolen from underneath their noses by online equivalents such as Amazon.
I predict that this pattern will repeat in Second Life and other virtual interconnectivity solutions. New businesses will evolve from within the media, which will replace existing ones – this is good news for some of Linden Labs existing users as skill sets are already being honed even though the market is immature. Early adopters in the current gold rush will benefit, but will need to innovate, not just repeat ‘online versions’ of existing methods to market.
Increase productivity value
Other metrics include making products easier, cheaper and faster than existing adopted methods. When huge established corporations such as Microsoft, launch a new technology, they already have an established market to throw the new products into, leaving companies such as Linden Labs as the ‘poor man’ in a highly competitive environment.
You can tell when a technology is mature by the behaviour of Microsoft, who will copy the best parts of existing products and launch their own product with those features in it. To date, the virtual world market is still immature and most platform creators are still yet to understand their market. We in the field can tell them who their market is, should they wish to listen to us rather than follow the latest whim.
As information is part of the key to mass adoption, it would seem sensible for the solution provider to ask its existing market of early adopters. This seldom happens in young and small companies as they lack the resources to use strategies such as gaming and using information methods to understand their niche and outsmart their competitors in the form of huge corporations ready to pounce and swallow their market.
History will repeat itself
I found this to be true from examining Netscape’s marketing policy in 1996. Remember them? – they were the market leaders at the time. They made an executive decision to let Microsoft spend it’s money on marketing its new browser and they would tag onto its tail and get their (hat they expected to be – larger) share of the market from that. Anyone why has studied game theory would have been aware of the consequences from the example of the Americas Cup Race. In yachting wisdom it is commonly accepted that if you are in the lead, watch the guy behind and do everything he is doing because that way he cannot overtake you.
Advice for Linden Labs
For Linden Labs the direction seems clear: stay focussed, watch your imitators and exploit the existing user base to spread the message ‘virally’. Information, ease of use and lower costs lead to mass adoption.
As a gateway owner and a firm aficionado of Second Life and virtual worlds, one thing I come across a lot is ‘what is there to do here’.
I just want to add here that the answer to ‘anything you want’ will soon be supplied with many opportunities and products to fill that ‘chasm’.