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Member Koni Lanzius sent me information on a trendline called the "Gartner Hype Cycle".  Koni writes:

"The Gartner Hype cycle is an insider business predictor that describes where a particular type of innovation sits on the cycle of hype... due to it's perceived profitability (this one looks at the *educational* hype cycle) but notice how virtual worlds are on the upswing and heading into the "Slope of enlightenment", after spending time in the "Trough of Disillusionment"."  

Following is the diagram she provided:


As Koni pointed out, this cycle of "Hype, Trough of Disillusionment and Slope of Enlightenment" follows pretty much precisely the trendline of Second Life and Virtual reality in general. 

Second Life soared during the initial hype phase.  Following the OpenSpace sim fiasco people became disillusioned with the company and their region and user base plummeted (that was in 2008).  It has very, very slowly pulled into the "Enlightenment" phase, which tends to level out into realistic rather than hype levels.

It's important to understand why this is called a "hype cycle".  That's exactly what it is.  It is the trendline a company and product takes when a company hypes and makes claims regarding a product then fails to live up to those claims, either because of inability to do so or because of bad management. 

In the case of Linden Lab most would agree that bad management was the problem.  It would be difficult to believe the company didn't have the ability to fulfill goals.  All that was needed was for them to write good code and to keep in mind and priority the welfare of their customers.   Had they done so, they likely would have lived up to expectations and instead gone into a regular growth phase then leveled out at "maximum potential" (ie, project success).  Instead, they went into the above hype cycle, along with the steep "disillusionment" decline cycle.  Now that people are more enlightened as to how both Linden Lab and Second Life really work, they are slowly starting to accept the actual product as is.

What this chart above doesn't show however is the eventuality of a hype-cycle when two things happens:

1) The company fails to react to the disillusionment cycle and continues "business as usual" and...

2) Competent competition and better products appear

When that happens the hype cycle can plummet and the product become outdated or non-viable.  Whether the company continues to coast along with a less-accepted product-- or loses its market entirely to another entity-- is the question answered by the "Viability over Time" cycle.  Does the trendline flatten out and remain at marginal profitability, not dying out but never living up to its full potential... or does it take another and plummet into "dead duck" finality?  Does the company replace their own product... and if so does that new product (fighting an uphill battle against past reputation) succeed or fail?

Only time will reveal the outcome.


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Comment by Ferrator Montoya on July 19, 2014 at 8:43am

Ok, but where does this leave people still convinced IW is going to go somewhere? Second Life is always cited as the example. First, biggest, largest, yada, yada, yada. My feeling is that grids other than SL are perceived as little more than collateral damage.

You make a mention of: 

Comment by Ferrator Montoya on July 19, 2014 at 8:50am

[damned enter key]

You make mention of:

2) Competent competition and better products appear

so far, in my opinion, IW just fits one of those. Better product. And after 5 years I certainly hope it is.

But it sure doesn't have the appearance of trying to actively offer competition or even offer itself as a good and viable alternative.

Oh and gawd yes, I know the rebuttal to this argument, "you don't know what is going on behind the scenes", or, "We have big things happening in the next month or two, but can't reveal anything yet" [now that has worn pretty thin after years of hearing it].

Comment by Wayfinder Wishbringer on July 19, 2014 at 11:05am

I agree Ferrator, at least from my viewpoint, that the "we've got plans" things is wearing thin.  If that proves true by the end of the year though, I think that's fine.  If not, it'll be wearing really thin.  So that's something Inworldz certainly has to live up to, because the expectations are set and an ETA is announced, and people will be counting on that becoming a reality.

Fortunately with Inworldz they don't really fit the Gartner Hype Curve because well... they never really hyped anything.  They've always claimed they're beta, that they're small and have limited resources.   If one doesn't hype a product they don't enter into the hype/expectation phase.  At least not yet.

If Inworldz fulfills what they've promised the users by the end of the year they will fit another chart: either a level-out trendline where things remain pretty much the same... or they'll steadily climb with a successful product until they reach market saturation or sufficiently superior competition comes along.  But at that time likely they'll have improved the product enough to be the superior competition.

But that's the point of unease:  if OpenSim or Inworldz had started all this on a totally new level, from scratch, they'd stand a better chance of leading the pack.  As it is however, the foundation is built on an already outmoded product, so the only way it can be improved is for Inworldz to significantly improve on the existing platform.  That can be done.  So we see if that's what actually happens.

As with all such things, while we can try to foresee and avoid potential problems, quite often only time tells what actually happens as the years roll by.  Is the current mode of VR outdated?  Is Inworldz just getting started... with significant plans for vast improvements?  

The thing that has me worried most of all is that Inworldz has for so long relied on IDI, the Mentors and the Explorer HUD to promote their grid, and those things obviously are not sufficient to the need.  If they were, region count (ie profit and working capital) would be growing.  But it hasn't grown, isn't growing, and all suggestions for additional tools to help have been rejected.  That's always a red flag for me, because without change and growth things pretty much either remain the same or decline.  

Inworldz has been at about 800 regions for how long?  "We have plans" is always fine and good for the future, but what about the now? 


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