Virtual Worlds, web 3D, “Live 3D collaboration” or “Full 3D Virtual Events” represent different angles of vision for the same group of 3D immersive Internet technologies. As 2010 was clearly the year of emergence of 3D for consumers, I would like to discuss the evolution of this part of 3D internet technologies.
During 2010, AVATAR, the movie , 3D TV screens in the shops, controller-free gaming consoles such as Wii and Kinect, and glasses-free 3D TV, all played a key role to massively introduce 3D environments to all generations and not just to the younger generations , as games did in the past 15 years. This created a new dynamic wave for the 3D Internet in general.
As a testimony to this new 3D wave, Altadyn, now in its ninth year of business, accelerated its growth in 2010, with over 117% revenue increase compared to 2009 :
ALTADYN revenue growth 2009 - 2011
In the past 25 years in the 3D technologies and businesses, we have seen years which left their marks more than other years. For instance;
- 1982 was the year of foundation of Silicon Graphics, Sun Microsystems, Adobe and Autodesk, as well as the year TRON was released by Disney,
- 1987 was the year when 3D design and modeling applications became affordable to most 3D animators and engineers when Sun introduced the first non proprietary OS on affordable workstations , and 1988 when PTC introduced the first parametric modeling technology ,
- 1995 when Hollywood started using the first realistic special effects in its productions or just the use of full 3D productions such as Toy Story by Pixar.
- 2010 was the year of Emergence of accessible virtual 3D environments for all, including consumers.
This general trend of emerging accessible 3D virtual environments strongly impacted technology providers, especially those offering 3D immersive software. Let’s have a look at a few lessons learned in 2010:
1) “Virtual Worlds , a la Second Life” are not meant to be for business, but for entertainment.
The Virtual Worlds market leader, Linden Lab, severely downsized it’s team, during 2010, stopped the Enterprise or B-to-B Business, and focused on its core business which is entertainment and gaming. The company even hired a new CEO with a clear gaming background. Forterra Inc., a pioneer in this space went out of business, as well as it’s “half sister” company THERE, a leading virtual world. We learned that a virtual world needs to have a purpose. If it’s for entertainment, then it needs to follow the rules of a game business model and the consequences. If it is for business, it has to follow business requirements, be enterprise-friendly, available in SaaS mode (hosted, on-demand), compliant with corporate firewalls, with no software download, etc…
2) Virtual Events are taking off but customers need more engaging Virtual Events.
Within 2010, the tough economy and budgetary restrictions, corporations and event firms produced even more events virtually than in the past, using mostly non 3D web-ex type technologies or pseudo-3D applications, while starting to use full 3D immersive platforms as well. Although some cost reduction goals were fully achieved, they didn’t meet their goals in terms of direct customer interaction, lead generation, new business relationships (see the TSNN report, tables 9 and 10). In another study, ROI of engagement, it apparent that customers need more engaging virtual events which facilitate networking and encourage active participation.
3) Perpetual Virtual Events or Permanent 3D Websites are needed more
Those clients, who experienced virtual events, notice that it’s much easier to setup a virtual event than a real event, and the cost of maintaining a virtual event space is a fraction of the cost of building it. Consequently, they are interested in more frequent virtual events or even perpetual trade-shows or show rooms where visitors can interact with company’s representatives, at any time. That’s the reason why 3DXplorer’s Meet-in-3D service is becoming more and more popular. This service saw a fast growth in 2010 and the trend for 2011 is continued. As a reminder, 3DXplorer/Meet-in-3D enables the transformation of anonymous visitors of a website into real prospects.
4) Other 3D Immersive Applications are emerging, or continue their development
Among other applications of 3D internet which gained a lot of customer attentions, we noticed:
- Replicating strategic corporate facilities and enabling accessible virtual visits
- Simulation and training
- eLearning and virtual classrooms
- On-boarding and other HR applications
- Virtual Showrooms and Art galleries
The trend in 2011 is in the continuity of 2010, with the market getting shaped in a more determined manner as per the above orientations, and we all look forward to it.
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