One of the first questions people have been asking me after hearing that Google was shutting down Lively is “do you think this will have a negative impact on virtual worlds?” Well, I had never really seen Lively as a true virtual world; but, did think it was a nice addition to the 3D space.
My answer to the question, is “no” though because many of the things I mentioned on this blog before still hold true as reasons that virtual world platforms will continue to thrive past the hype they garnered a couple of years ago.
It was nice to see many similar theories put forward in a report released last week by ThinkBalm, an independent IT industry analysis and strategic advisory services firm co-founded by Erica and Sam Driver. Prior to ThinkBalm, Erica was a Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, where she launched the company’s Web3D coverage as part of her enterprise collaboration research.
The ThinkBalm report puts forward that virtual worlds, learning simulations and 3D business applications offer businesses the chance to deeply engage workers and customers. Erica discussed it in more detail with itWorldCanada recently.
As part of ThinkBalm’s Innovation Community, I had an opportunity to get a sneak peak at the report; and, while I am listed as a contributor, there was very little feedback for me to add because so much of it rang true to my own observations. The near future will see internal collaboration as a driver for more virtual world adoption within corporations, and once those users become familiar with the technology, they will in turn think of new applications for an immersive internet experience for their business customers.
Another analyst covering this industry, Steve Prentice at Gartner, seemed to concur in a recent Computer Weekly article where he said “he believes the main use of the technology over the next few years will be in so-called 'intraverses' or virtual world environments that either sit on companies' own infrastructure or their service provider's, behind the firewall.”
So, while I do think there is much opportunity lost with the very early closure of Lively, it is not likely to hold back the advancement of virtual worlds. They may be in the “trough of disillusionment” according to Gartner’s Hype Cycle, but that simply means they are that much closer to true user adoption instead of overhyped expectations.
As Prentice concludes in the Computer Weekly article, “it's now time to get down to the hard work because this is a people issue not a technology one."