Press release: "Yankee Group revealed that the hype surrounding Second Life doesn’t match its actual marketplace impact. Despite near-continuous coverage in the popular and business press, metaverses like Second Life are experiencing slowing growth and limited impact because of the tethered nature of their virtual world experience.
According to the recently published Yankee Group Note, Wither Second Life?, the growth rate of Second Life users has slowed since its peak in October 2006, while user engagement (as measured by average time spent per user) has leveled off at just 12 minutes per month."
And there I was thinking that the slower growth was due to the decrease in the amount of media hype.
Anyway, Yankee Group gives its own reason behind the decline; it's the lack of mobile access: "However, for virtual worlds and metaverses to achieve greater potential in the marketplace and grow beyond early adopters, the experience must be untethered to meet the needs of the Anywhere Consumer."
No idea where this conclusion is coming from -- it's not like a lot of people in the US are using phones for anything other than voice calls and txting. I haven't read the entire report, though. Some mobile functionality wouldn't hurt -- financial transactions, alerts, and chat all seem like fairly low hanging fruits -- but is mobility such a deal-maker?
And if you don't like the doom and gloom of Yankee Group, you can always turn to the much more optimistic Gartner that promised 80% of internet users in virtual worlds by 2011.