If the popular, and not so popular, press is to be believed, the virtual world we all know and love is disappearing faster down the toilet than one of those poos that you definitely know you did – you heard the splash – but when you take a look, it’s completely vanished. Apparently, Sims are vanishing at an ever-increasing rate of knots; stores are closing faster than a camera retailer going into receivership, and; the whole Grid is a seething morass of lag, technical breakdowns and irreconcilable problems… all of which, of course, can only mean that sl – in every possible way, and a few impossible ways also – is pretty much in the end stages of terminal entropism.
All of which is – as the great philosopher, Gene Hunt, would say – cobblers!
It’s all a lot of ill-founded, badly thought-out, scare-mongering poppycock: SL, and possibly more importantly, Linden Lab are nowhere near as badly off as so many commentators are making out and you can bet your bottom dollar that they’re definitely not on their last legs, despite all the naysayers who seem to think that the end of the virtual world is very nigh indeed.
Since we all tend to get a little bit too emotionally involved when talking about sl and the Lab, let’s take a hypothetical situation in order to explore the issues…
Imagine, if you will, a hypothetical bedside lamp company based in the South-East of England… we’ll call them ‘London Lamp’, whose only product for many years has been a dual bedside lamp with bulbs on both sides of the bed. The product, ‘Second Light’, has become synonymous with the company, although – to be honest its failure rate is legendary and when Second Light works at all its users have to stoically put up with switches that don’t work, flickering bulbs, poor build quality and dodgy wiring – even so, it’s developed a hardcore of fans who will use nothing else to illuminate their bedtime Brontë. There are copycat devices on the market, but even the most successful of competitors and the glossiest of new lamps on the block only have a small following in comparison.
A shake-up of the London Lamp board produced a new CEO, (or as we in Britland correctly refer to them, MD) – a man from the bright lights of the neon hoardings industry. Under the new leadership, company priorities changed… no longer was the focus on being quirky and fluffy around the edges, instead serious effort and cash was injected into R&D, particularly into solving some of the technical issues that had plagued Second Light since it first hit the stores. As innovative solutions to longstanding problems were introduced, inevitably some diehard fans became disenchanted – many didn’t like the company’s new ‘hands-off’ approach to customers and some even moved to the ‘dark side’… forsaking Second Light for other brands of bedside lamp.
As even more improvements and fixes were rolled out, it seemed the problems just kept on growing. Older Second Lights became incompatible with the new wiring; some people hated the colours of the new bulbs. Frequently, as the company piled on the improvements, these would cause unforseen glitches and faults with the existing lamps… this irritated owners beyond reason, even though the company was doing its best to keep things working – and, incidentally, doing it all for free.
Dissatisfaction amongst Second Light owners was high – many complained vocally about the shambles that had been brought to their evening cocoa in bed; some even accused London Lamp of not caring about their sleepless nights. People demanded that the company reduce its ridiculously high prices and spent hours pontificating on the web about how longtime owners of Second Lights were abandoning their lamps – surely the company and its flagship product were on the brink of commercial ruin?
But, this was all a load of cobblers! Especially when you took a close look at the facts… You see, London Lamp was doing exceptionally well – for a start, they were addressing the technical issues that had plagued Second Light for as long as anyone could remember. Not only that, but they were introducing new features, like dimmer switches, that customers had demanded for years. As for the high prices… well, the premium product had never been cheap and people had always complained about it, but the price wasn’t going up either and even though lookalike lamps were much cheaper, their functionality, features and popularity were nowhere near those that the market leader could boast – besides which, the company provided a no-frills cheap and cheerful version to anyone who wanted it. London Lamp stuck to its guns and refused to bow to pressure to reduce prices: no company was going to cut its own throat by slashing prices, whilst investing so heavily in product development – it made absolutely no business sense to do so.
What about all the people dumping their Second Lights and abandoning the company? Certainly there was something of a downward trend, but any economist would say that it simply reflected the global economic downturn – when times are hard, people will cut their costs to suit. Although, this wasn’t strictly true for London Lamp, because they were expanding! Quietly, in the background, the company had invested in new projects… kitchen implements, heated towel-rails and tea-caddies – for the first time ever, the company was no longer a one-trick pony!
Does this sound to you like a failing company and a doomed product?
Oh, there’s a lot of opportunities
If you know when to take them, you know?
There’s a lot of opportunities
If there aren’t, you can make them
Make or break them
Pet Shop Boys – Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money)