Second Life’s span is virtually over as firms decide to get real – Telegraph

March 30, 2009

 

“Just three years ago technology experts predicted Second Life would become the internet sensation of the decade, overtaking YouTube and MySpace in the process. Now the same experts are predicting its imminent demise”, writes Rupert Neate in the Daily Telegraph.
Published in the Daily Telegraph 8:19PM BST 30 Mar 2009

While the site is still beloved by geeks and the socially awkward, Deloitte’s director of technology research, Paul Lee, says it has been “virtually abandoned” by “normal” people and businesses.

In 2006 multinational companies, including BT, Coca-Cola, Adidas and Toyota, were scrabbling to create “in world” presences to profit from what was expected to be the next great internet cash cow.

But today the Second Life high street is mostly deserted, as businesses have realised that despite management claims that the site has 15m members, far fewer people actually play the game. Research for The Daily Telegraph shows just 580,000 people logged on to the game last week.

Matthew Brotherton who runs BT’s presence on Second Life, says most major businesses “have gone cold” on the game as they “can’t see how it is possible to make any money out of it”.

“T-Mobile, Vodafone and a host of our competitors all had public presences, now you cannot find them, they are all taking a step back to save money,” he says. “There are definitely far fewer businesses than there used to be, it is a struggle to find the ones that were there just a year ago.”

Mr Brotherton says he would not be surprised if Second Life has died a death by the end of the year.

At the peak of its hype, Reuters even set-up a bureau on the site but it closed down its operations last year. Eric Krangel, who reported under the byline Eric Reuters, explains why the news agency left: “The very things that most appeal to Second Life’s hardcore enthusiasts are either boring or creepy for most people: spending hundreds of hours of effort to make insignificant amounts of money selling virtual clothes, experimenting with changing your gender or species, getting into random conversations with strangers from around the world, or having pseudo-nonymous sex (and let’s not kid ourselves, sex is a huge draw into Second Life).

“As part of walking my ‘beat’, I’d get invited by sources to virtual nightclubs, where I’d right-click the dance floor to send my avatar [Second Life character] gyrating as I sat at home at my computer. It was about as fun as watching paint dry.”

The overt seediness has caused businesses to think twice about whether they want to be associated with the game.

Concerns about the ubiquity of adult content have forced Mark Kingdon, the chief executive of Linden Lab, the company behind Second Life, to introduce tough new rules to restrict sexual activity to “red light” zones within the site.

But he insists users come to Second Life for more than just sex. “You can learn French art at a Parisian café, go on an African safari and meet interesting people from all around the world,” he says.

Paul Jackson, of Forrester Research, warns that if Second Life is too draconian in clamping down on its seedier side it risks alienating its current users without the guarantee of securing new followers.

He believes the site is close to “stagnation” in terms of user growth as the concept only excites a small subset of internet users.

“The gloss has gone off the whole virtual world segment,” he says. “It only appeals to a very specific mindset, most people don’t have the time to sit in front of their computers for hours on end playing a virtual game.”

Mr Kingdon, who took over as chief executive of Second Life last year after its creator Philip Rosedale stood down from day-to-day operations, claims the site is attracting new players at the rate of one every 10 seconds and is adamant that a “good number” of companies are still present in the game. But he refuses to state how many, claiming Second Life does not keep a record of businesses in the game.

And even if businesses, faced with recession, are pulling back from hyper-reality, ordinary users may end up using the site more, according to Mr Kingdon. “People who can’t afford to go dancing in the real world, will buy a tux for a $1 in Second Life and dance the night away,” he says.

Mr Kingdon also stresses that Linden Lab itself is “very profitable”, though he refuses to disclose any financial information on the privately-held company. Second Life makes money by exchanging real money for Linden dollars, which players can use to buy land, goods and services in the game. Mr Kingdon says $37m (£26m) worth of Linden dollars were transferred between users last month alone.

Repeated requests for financial data on the company were ignored despite Linden Lab’s press office saying they would “love” to provide figures to back-up their claims of profitability.

The company is owned by a host of venture capital funds, including those run by Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and Benchmark Capital, the backers of eBay. To date, Linden Lab has not publicly released any details of its revenue or profits. Valley Wag, the respected Silicon Valley gossip blog, has meanwhile created a Second Life “death watch” as it believes the site is on its last legs.

There are fears that as the cost of data storage rise the company is struggling to fund enough servers to run the site. Users complain that the website crashes frequently.

The booming popularity of newer social networking sites, like Facebook and Twitter, is also bound to affect Second Life’s usership and its cache.

“It is a very different proposition [to Twitter and Facebook],” says Mr Kingdon. “We have an incredible business model that any social media property would envy. Facebook and Twitter may have more users, but Second Life actually has a business model and makes money. I wouldn’t trade places with them.”

Second Life has also suffered an exodus of executives over the past year. Mr Kingdon, a former online advertising executive and senior partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, took over from Mr Rosedale last year. A couple of months earlier its chief technology officer, Cory Ondrejka, left for EMI after a spat with Mr Rosedale.

Only last Friday, finance director John Zdanowski left the company, completing a near total shake-up of the senior management team.

Gone are the days when Linden Lab’s executives — as a frog, a beagle and a jellyfish in one instance — had their meetings in the virtual world they created. Instead, perhaps, as Second Life’s critics would have it, it’s time for Linden Labs’ management to face reality.

Second Life’s span is virtually over as firms decide to get real – Telegraph

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Yankee Stadium’s New HDTV Is Bigger Than Yours — Way Bigger | Gadget Lab from Wired.com

March 27, 2009

By Jose Fermoso EmailMarch 25, 2009 | 6:01:00 AMCategories: Displays, Sports, Television

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Anyone walking into the new $1.3 billion stadium for the New York Yankees this spring is bound to be amazed by the size of the center field LED scoreboard, as the first photos of the screen reveal.

Taken by a local CBS affiliate in New York, the pics show early tests of the 103-by-58-foot, 1080p HD Mitsubishi Diamond Vision LED display, which is six times larger than the screen at old Yankee Stadium. According to Mitsubishi, the display is embedded with 8,601,600 LED lamps (covering a total of 5,925 square feet), and can put up to four simultaneous images, with picture-in-picture capabilities.

Yankee Stadium’s New HDTV Is Bigger Than Yours — Way Bigger | Gadget Lab from Wired.com


Microsoft Surface Launches in 12 EMEA Markets

March 15, 2009

From rAVe Europe

Microsoft Corp. announces expanded commercial availability of Microsoft Surface to 12 select markets in EMEA (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Qatar, Spain, Sweden, UAE and UK.)
Microsoft Surface is a surface computing platform that responds to natural hand gestures and to the placement of real-world objects on the display. With a large, 360-degree, horizontal user interface, Microsoft Surface creates a tabletop computing platform where multiple users can collaboratively and simultaneously interact with information, content and physical objects. Microsoft sells Surface as an enabler that lets companies attract and convert new customers as well as cross-sell products and services, drive customer loyalty, and achieve operating efficiencies.
As content and applications provide the real context of the Microsoft Surface experience, developers are critical. The Microsoft Surface partner program has expanded to include more than 120 partners from 11 countries
One example: Telefónica I+D is working on the development of Microsoft Surface applications for the retail, banking, digital signage, leisure and entertainment sectors. The Telefónica flagship store in Madrid, Spain, features a Microsoft Surface app that lets customers have a personalized shopping experience (lets buyers shop by accessing info about multiple mobile devices by placing them on the display.)


Japan, EU to jointly develop advanced eco-friendly technologies

March 12, 2009

TOKYO – Japan has decided to work with the European Union to develop next-generation photovoltaic technologies as part of their efforts to combat climate change, industry ministry officials said Friday.

Japan and the European Union will cooperate in developing photovoltaic cells that would be 40 percent more efficient in power generation but cost about one-sixth of the current average price of 46 yen per kilowatt hour, the officials said.

The other areas in which Japan and the European Union will launch joint development projects are related to rechargeable batteries, and carbon capture and storage technologies, they said.

As to batteries for electric cars, they will aim for a running capacity of 500 kilometres per full charge and lower their market prices to one-40th of current levels.

Through the cooperation, Japan and the European Union will try to make such advanced technologies commercially available by 2030 or later, the officials said.

© 2009 Kyodo World News Service

Japan, EU to jointly develop advanced eco-friendly technologies – The Black Ship: Japan News and Forum


Southern Electronics 2009 breaks all records

March 12, 2009

 Publication date: 11 March 2009

Southern Electronics 2009 defied both the British Winter and the credit crunch with the most successful show in its history. Visitors in record numbers braved the icy conditions to experience the show, the largest ever staged and arguably the most important electronics show in the UK this year.

Visitor numbers to the Southern Manufacturing & Electronics Show 2009 set new records.More companies than ever took the opportunity to exhibit at the South’s landmark industrial event. Exhibition space sold out in December 2008, forcing the organisers to re-organise the floorplan and free-up more space.

As in previous years, Southern Electronics shared its Farnborough venue with the Southern Manufacturing show. A total of over 500 companies from across Europe took part this year, exhibiting an incredible variety of technologies, products and services – everything from the most sophisticated machine tools to the simplest connector.

The show’s great strength has always been that it is possible for visitors to meet suppliers from virtually every branch of industry in a single, convenient visit. With over 3,500m² of exhibition space filled, that was even more true this year.

Southern Manufacturing & Electronics Show has a unique energy and atmosphere, this year given an extra edge by the enthusiasm of the many first-time visitors and exhibitors.

Times may be hard, but that seems to have done little to deter the UK’s engineers, manufacturers and industrial suppliers from their determination to seek out new opportunities and new business.

Chris Heal, sales manager of Custom Interconnect Ltd, commented, "We have been coming to the show for a number of years now and this is a particularly good one. Strange thing to say, but even when we were setting up there was a good feeling about the event, very alive somehow. There is a wide variety of exhibitors and that is always good".

Show director, Phil Valentine of European Trade & Exhibition Services (ETES) said, "The response this year has been truly remarkable. We know that things are difficult for some, but in many of the conversations I have had with people here, I’ve been struck by the degree of optimism and the strong belief in the importance of industry and manufacturing to the future prospects of the UK economy as a whole. We are delighted that the show has proved such a useful platform for so many exhibitors."

For Further Information, Please Visit http://www.industry.co.uk

ElectronicsProductionWorld.com – Southern Electronics 2009 breaks all records


Mitsubishi Demos ‘3D Touch Panel’ — Tech-On!

March 11, 2009

Mar 11, 2009 11:46
Tadashi Nezu, Nikkei Electronics

Mitsubishi Electric Corp prototyped a capacitive touch panel that can detect the distance between a finger and the panel and demonstrated it at Interaction 2009, which took place from March 5 to 6, 2009, in Tokyo.

Mitsubishi Electric calls the touch panel " 3D touch panel" because it can determine not only the x- and y- (plane) coordinates of a finger but also its z- (normal direction) coordinate. The prototype has a 5.7-inch screen with a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels (VGA).

The prototype is intended for use in mobile devices with a small touch panel. For example, the company envisions mobile devices equipped with a "mouseover function," which changes the image of an icon when the mouse pointer is placed on it.

This time, Mitsubishi Electric had a demonstration of moving a finger toward thumbnail icons and icons on a map and changing their shapes.

"We think the mouseover function is more useful in smaller screens," the company’s spokesperson said.

By calculating the time variation of capacity in the z-axis direction, "the acceleration of the finger approaching the panel can be detected," the spokesperson said. With this method, the panel can determine the speed of the approaching finger.

"If the backlight is designed to be red when the finger moves fast and blue when it moves slowly, emotional changes of the user can be reflected on the panel," the spokesperson said.


The prototyped "3D touch panel." A white circle is displayed on the area approached by a finger. The circle becomes larger as the finger moves closer to the panel.


When a finger approaches the panel, icons pop up around it.


One of the thumbnail pictures enlarges when approached by a finger.

Mitsubishi Demos ‘3D Touch Panel’ — Tech-On!


ALR benefits from demand for higher quality PCB services

March 9, 2009

 March 9, 2009

Posted by alreditor in Business news.
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Angela Bond of Tioga picks a winner at ALR's prize draw The credit crunch is prompting PCB consumers to demand higher quality service and greater value, says Europe’s leading PCB supplier, ALR Services. After an exceptionally successful two-days at the recent Southern Electronics show, the Oxfordshire-based PCB specialist says that its trademark “positive attitude” approach to customer service is winning it new customers in increasing numbers.

Jo Saltman, sales manager of ALR Services, reports brisk business over the two-day event in Farnborough. “We’ve had probably one of our busiest exhibitions ever,” says Jo. “Despite the downturn, there is a lot of business still being done in the UK, clearly demonstrated by the number of serious enquiries we’ve dealt with in the last couple of days.” Over 80 new prospects were identified, some of whom have already been converted into sales. “As a company, we’ve always focused on delivering outstanding value and service. When budgets are tight, good value and good service are what customers are really looking for.”

Founded 15 years ago, ALR Services has built a loyal customer base across the UK and Europe through its innovative approach to PCB sourcing, the latest example of which is its new Panel Sharing Prototype (PSP) service, launched at Southern Electronics, designed to deliver production-quality prototype boards at extremely competitive prices. “Shared panel schemes have been around for a while,” says Jo, “But very much as a ‘what-you-see-is-what-you-get’ service: files aren’t checked before they’re processed so that a simple error can render the resulting boards useless. Nobody can afford to waste money like that in the current climate.”

With ALR’s PSP service, files are design checked before processing, only top-grade FR4 laminates are used and solder resist and component IDs are screened onto the board as standard. “We even bare-board test it before delivery”, continues Jo, “Meaning the finished PCB is virtually production-quality, resulting in faster and more economical product development. Anything that helps UK electronics businesses to be more efficient and responsive is good news for everyone.”

There was good news also for two lucky visitors to the stand, whose names were pulled out of the hat for ALR’s prize draw. Colin Howard, managing director of Nightsearcher Ltd. walked away with a Sat-Nav system, while Simon Bell, Chief Engineer at Spark Electronics, won an iPod Touch. Both cards were picked by Angela Bond, sales manager of Derby-based contract electronics firm Tioga that was also exhibiting at the show, assisted by Jo Saltman.

BOARD TALK