When you take a look at the recent development of Second Life, then there are some things different compared to earlier developments:
- There are still no key metrics available for August 2007. Those tend to get published later and later over the months.
- The exchange of Linden dollars has reached a peak in the 1st quarter of 2007; since then it has been slowly decreasing, so Q1 is its peak (take a look at the last graph here).
- Premium residents have reached their peak in June, there have already been less again in July.
- The number of new residents entering the game has slowed down.
- Business people are complaining in world about a lack of sales, meaning those are going down at the moment. There is for example being rumored that 70% of the Plush sims are unused right now.
- Many Europeans are pissed off that they now have to pay VAT in most cases. This is not LL's fault at all, but could lead to more in world payments again and/or higher prices on their products.
- Many markets tend to be sated after a while, so it goes with many in world markets when the rush of newbies tends to be over.
So what does that mean? Well, for now the hype is over in most countries. If Second Life should prove its worth as a tool, it now needs to improve to appeal more for business usage and to be more stable to sustain the established in world economy and returning residents.
Premium residents are not enough in numbers to sustain SL at all, so most of the money Lindenlab makes has its origin in land sales and main land tier fees. The borders of growth have been reached for now, as it seems, so now it's time for a consolidation of Second Life at all.
Since all are dependent on Lindenlab, this means of course more stable sims and clients, which is on the way according to them, a better scalable grid, too, better customer service - face it, most think it's as bad as it can be and slow, slow, slow - and getting more in touch again with the community.
For many residents the relationship with Lindenlab is kind of love/hate. Love, that they made Second Life possible and hate, because of the high land prices, not stabilizing the client/server enough, being dependent on Lindenlab, slow customer service and many more of such things. Oh, and since you can't see the Lindens in world often anymore, they became something like the spooky people running all of the stuff in the background.
Also the main focus of Lindenlab shifted from promoting Second Life to promoting the technic behind it, the grid. This is perhaps a good move for them, but of course also means that they're now focusing more on the technic behind it than on the well established community in Second Life.