The favourite sport for the New Year appears to be trying to work out how big SL will be by the end of 2007. Banana Stein on the Goddess and Banana podcast talked about 10m users and 100,000 concurrent by year end (that should keep Linden Labs busy buying servers - assuming the architecture scales which some seem to doubt.
Tristan Lewis reckons that SL could be at 3.5m-9.6m by end April with an average of 7.3m. What is interesting is that although he made his estimate on 5 Jan 07 SL is ALREADY outstripping his forecast!
The number that really gets me is the in-world economy. SL appears to be running on a nice 100/50/1 ratio, ie for every 100 thousand users there are 50 thousand $ being spent a day and 1 thousand concurrent users. On that basis 10m users would mean $5m a day being spent in world, that is $1.8bn equivalent annually.
To me 10m sounds about right. Even that will make it bigger than World of Warcraft. The chances are the competitors (Multiverse) won't get seriously going by year end, so SL will be making all the running.
Of course the real way to predict this is by S curve. But is the S curve for SL, for virtual worlds of this generation, for worlds as consumer environments or as business environments. And when did the curve start, in 1995/6 with the first web based VR spaces, or 2003 when SL opened? And when does the curve finish - when the worlds have hoovered up the current Virtual World inclined users, or when the 2D Internet and 3D internet merge?