Today I've done a visit to one of the biggest, walled gardens alternative grids based on Opensimulator backed up by a corporation in the back ground named "Avination." Registration went flawless, logged in with Imprudence, all seems to be working well or at least well enough at first glance.
No unexpected behaviour, user concurrency seems at peaks around 200, around 1.000 regions are at the grid there and there's the usual stuff around: brands we all know from over Second Life (like Nikita Fride, De Designs and so on) have their branches there, there's an own currency you can buy stuff, regions are much, much cheaper than in Second Life (60 US$ for a full prim sim) and so on and on. The average in world price for stuff from the designers though is around the same level as in Second Life. Sits like a duck, sounds like a duck, walks like a duck.
It felt so much like a copycat of Second Life, that it hurts and gives me some reasons to doubt. Is just copying almost the whole business model of Linden Lab with just "being cheaper" printed on it enough for the future? My personal guess is quite simple: no, it is not
Let's face the truth: Opensimulator has yet to prove it can deliver the concurrency levels of Second Life in its early days, I mean come on, around 200 Avatars currency peak is nothing compared to around 60000 in Second Life. Yes, Avination is lightning fast at the moment, but so was Second Life too way back then. The problem is not being fast alone, but how capable the underlying technology is in terms of upscaling. Avination - it if gets really successful on its own - has yet to face the problems Second Life already faced and has managed to resolve. That's one point.
The other point is, quite simple, this one: why should I move to a much smaller grid and pay for the stuff I already got in Second Life - once again? Just because some people are overhyping it right now to make some business there? Why should I move to a grid, which competes with Second Life but in terms of service (like Physics, reliability of the underlying architecture and so on) is less advanced than Second Life? As much as I am always complaining sometimes about Second Life, I am not ready yet to do that, because AVN is way too similar for me and there's no real need, reason to go there anyway, because Second Life is still leading the field, believe it or not. Stuff like the Hypergrid which adds to the uniqueness and I personally think about as the future of Opensimulator is disabled in Avination until now, and why should I spend my hard earned money into another dead end, when I am able to still have enough fun in the old dead end? That's why.
So either they are going to develop sooner or later their own type of business model, uniqueness, whatever - or they are going to be gone after the people start to begin thinking again and their hype is over.