Here's what I listed last year (details of my predictions in my 2011 post):
- Teens on main grid will speed up economic growth RIGHT
I'd say I'm right. It wasn't only the teens - creativity was thriving in 2011! Think of full mesh avatars (while mesh was still in beta!), pencil skirts, creative use of alpha layers, excellent events and so on. All this resulted in a major economy boost, and I think it keeps growing strong.
- Viewer 3 will be introduced RIGHT
It's not exactly what I was expecting, but you can actually arrange the buttons now to look like in viewer 1.23 and thanks to that change I like using the official viewer much more. And I'm expecting more changes this year - the viewer is still far from perfect, and unfortunately still not as good as 1.23, at least from a designer's point of view.
- Browser viewer will be open for everyone WRONG
That's interesting - seems like the project was completely forgotten and abandoned - but maybe Lindens secretly work on it?
- SL will become more mainstream RIGHT
Well, there weren't actually many movies about SL, but the marketing was very active and intensive. Lindens were doing it cleverly, using different channels like YouTube and Facebook, and targetting various groups of people. This surely added to Second Life's popularity. Think of Linden Realms (a game-like experience) as something for Facebook gamers, or the 'become a vampire' ads as a response to Twilight hype. There's one interesting observation here - basing on how SL was advertised in 2011 it seems the most wanted 'newcomers' are younger people, probably teens, even though (or maybe - because) the current average resident is about 30 years old.
- A better IP protection system will be introduced WRONG
Seems like another forgotten topic of 2011, but I think it will come back sooner or later. It is something that needs to be heavily discussed before applying any new changes/policies and I expect some news this year.
- New CEO will prove to be a good leader for Linden Lab and Second Life RIGHT
I think Rod Humble successfully balances residents' needs with company's needs. He's paying attention to what has to be done and makes it so that both 'sides' are satisfied. I don't remember any of his decisions that would make me angry last year, so I guess so far so good :)
- Gambling in SL will be back WRONG
So wrong - it's a lesson to not believe in rumours :)
- New tools for managing inventory WRONG
No new tools at all, meh.
- Anton Bogdanovych will release his motion capture equipment on the consumer market WRONG
Well, that was more wishful thinking than an actual prediction anyway ;)
What to expect in SL from year 2012? Here's what I think:
- Less expensive land
I expect there will be many land sale promotions and reduced prices to increase land ownership in SL. There will probably be more focus on mainland - it seems to be forgotten for last few months.
- More marketplace improvements
As they say, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. There is a significant marketplace improvement being tested on Beta Grid at the moment: direct delivery, which means soon we won't need to accept deliveries from marketplace (they will go straight to inventory) and we'll finally have possibility to sell unboxed products, just like in-world. I think it is just a beginning of many improvements to come. I was curious why the magic box was never updated since the switch from Xstreet SL to SL Marketplace - well, now it's obvious: there was no need, because we won't need magic boxes soon. Which also means you won't need any land (for hosting magic boxes) to sell your items on the marketplace.
- More viewer changes
Following recent changes I think there will be more configurability added to SL viewer. Hopefully there will be changes made with creators in mind, making it easier to use the official viewer in design process - currently many people still use 1.23 based viewers to create items, unless the item requires the new viewer in a way. I also think there will be a light/web/mobile viewer introduced soon - there is a need for a thin SL client.
- Focus on performance and stability
There will be definitely a lot more focus on performance and stability. It is actually related to viewer changes, as most people currently can't use the official viewer at all - it keeps crashing every 5 minutes, even on newest computers. I know a lot of people have this problem with SL. It is something that needs to be fixed and I believe it will be fixed in 2012. Maybe there will also be some changes as to how objects are rendered?
- NPC engine for all
NPC/AI scripted engine announced by Rod Humble will boost in-world creativity after being introduced and will result in many new interesting products, never seen before in SL.
- Designer certificate program
A designer certificate program will be introduced to protect intelectual property. When strict terms are met, you will be granted a certificate acknowledging you as a trusted designer. This will also start an open discussion about IP protection - this time with less emotions and more thought.
- Premium users appreciation program
I expect more attention from LL to premium users, with no exact prediction as to how it would look like. But I definitely expect more advantages of becoming a premium user.
- Increase in mesh popularity
As works on mesh development and the official viewer progress, more and more users will leave 1.23 based viewers, which will result in increased mesh popularity. I also think big players might come in this year, like game makers, or talented individuals, who will set new level of quality that designers will have to achieve in order to stay competitive on the market.
- New tools for managing inventory
It is the same prediction as last year. This just needs to be done and I've got a feeling they are working on it.
In general I think there will be many changes for better. 2012 should bring stability, bigger user base, stronger economy, more conversation between LL and residents, less confusion and so on. It will surely be a good year :)