Exemplifying the electric growth of Web 2.0 companies, the virtual world Second Life has grown from under 1 million residents to over 10 million in a little over one year.
While 10 million residents is perhaps not the best measurement metric for the world’s success (users may have multiple resident accounts and not more than 10% of them so far do anything more than have one quick look around), it is still an important milestone.
Other Second Life indicators reflect vigorous health, for example, a robust economy exceeding $1 million USD per day and a routine concurrency (the number of residents in-world at any time) of 30,000-40,000 with a new peak concurrency of 50,000 reached for the first time in early September 2007. Other statistics are available here.
The virtual world space is itself burgeoning, with 10-20+ worlds now available or about to launch targeted at different age segments (pre-teen, teen and adult). Second Life, There, ActiveWorlds, Multiverse and Kaneva are the best known, several of whom are coming together to develop standards for avatar, object and economic transfer between worlds.
Another growth indicator is the industry gatherings, the second meeting of the Virtual Worlds conference, Oct 10-11 in
Diverse Participants and Applications
Perhaps most exciting is the broad audience and variety of applications that virtual worlds are attracting; entertainment, enterprise, education, non-profits, governments and individuals are all exploring the medium amidst a flurry of both positive and negative press. Groups of every sort are coming to virtual worlds to collaborate in richer ways than have been possible previously. For example, below is a sim featuring LAX airport traffic data visualization.