A post today on Massively asked "Is Linden Lab wasting its time on the existing Second Life population?" I think a better question might be, "Why doesn't Linden Lab spend more time on the existing SL population?"
I don't mean figuring out how to keep residents happy. The core SLers who spend 30, 40, 50 or more hours per week in avatar form aren't going anywhere. Their assets are all locked up within Linden Lab servers.
Digital assets are held hostage by DRM. Years of accumulated clothes, poseballs, HUDs, animations and even those beloved chickens would have to be left behind. Even the creative class has big investments in purchased assets.
Social assets are also pretty much locked up within Second Life. Although many residents extend identity through social networks and instant messaging, it just ain't the same as actually being able to spend time together in avatar form. So until there is the free transit of identity between Second Life and OpenSim grids, it will be very hard for socially active residents to leave.
Finally, OpenSim grids aren't technically competitive to Second LIfe yet. No matter how much residents bitch and moan about things, they aren't going to leave their First (Virtual) World lifestyle for an immigrant's life in an undeveloped grid.
So if current residents are going to stay put, why do I think Linden Lab should focus more on them? It's because I think the best way to figure out how to target, attract and retain new residents is to put existing residents under a microscope and figure out who they are and what makes them tick. To put it bluntly, what needs to be determined is who the hell has the time and latent desire for a Second Life.
I'll have more thoughts on this in a post later this week.