Telstra responds to questions on Second Life withdrawal

bigpond-secondlife-nov2009-3-smlAs mentioned yesterday, Telstra have announced their withdrawal from Second Life, and there’s been no shortage of discussion on it around the blogosphere.

We’ve had some passionate comments and a couple of emails from residents quite upset at the decision.

I took the opportunity to put some questions to Telstra’s media spokesman, Craig Middleton, to get some further clarity on future plans and what will happen to the content that’s been successful for their presence:

Lowell: After more than two years of operation, what are the key lessons Telstra has learnt from the experience?

Craig: From our venture into Second Life we learnt a great deal in a variety of areas, including online community anagement and how to foster event-based traffic – experiences in relation to the in world support team and management of frequent in world events .

Lowell: It’s arguable that Telstra has been one of the more successful examples of a business building a community, through regular activities, dedicated staff support and a large presence. Was the costs of delivering that service too much for the returns it provided?

Craig: We don’t discuss the commercial aspects of our business, however we were very happy with the popularity of the islands and the interaction they allowed us in-world.

Lowell: In regards to cost – how does Telstra plan to report to shareholders on any substantive outcomes from the Second Life foray? BigPond’s involvement on the face of it has been a success, so how will those successes be captured?

Craig: BigPond’s activities and investment in Second Life have been widely reported since our launch. I do not expect any further reporting beyond that.

Lowell: Are there any particular issues with Second Life that have hastened the decision to leave?

Craig: Our focus is now moving towards other social media options that are gaining in popularity and functionality on computers, mobile phones, TVs and game consoles. Watch out for such announcements in coming months. It is important for a communications company like Telstra to continue to experiment with emerging Web 2.0 applications

Lowell: What will happen to all the BigPond content? Does Telstra have any plans to archive it or even make it available for BigPond customers to use as a basis for further content creation?

Craig: There are no plans beyond helping our customers transition their inworld residences to other locations

Lowell: Does BigPond have any plans to continue development of products in virtual environments at all?

Craig: As per above.

For mine, after the impact on the community of residents, the disappearance of all the BigPond content is the biggest shame of the decision by Telstra to withdraw from Second Life. It appears they’re not ruling out further forays into virtual environments, but aside from that and anything they’ve learnt from the experiment, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of joy for BigPond customers who are Second Life residents.

Comments

  1. The final nail in the coffin for Second Life, showing little to no ROI for business investments?

  2. paisleybeebe says:

    Well you tried Lowel….and this is why I would not have CM on my show. You just get a lot of robotic, management speak with no content beyond the company line. Wouldn't expect anything else. Very frustrating, but ah well…I guess the Aust community just isn't big enough in SL to make even the tiny amount they are spending on Pond worth it..and they did try to make it more attractive for Customers to be in SL, with free download. The constant misinformation about how that free download actually worked didn't help. I've been with Bigpond for many years and since 2006 when I first rezzed, like most, was very well aware of the the amount of SL download I was getting free, it was much more than just on the islands, I never went there. But at the end of the day, we all know that you can still get a better deal elsewhere…it all looked good on the website all those yellow bars rising up from the blue ones…but for less money I now have over double the same download limit but split into peak and off peak. I paid $89 per month for 25G and used almost all of it. Now I pay through iinet the same amount for 30G peak 40G off peak plus the phone line thrown in. My phone bills and internet plan have justified me not worrying about losing that free download. I've saved hundreds of $'s a month. So its bad for those still in contract…they are stuck! and Bigpond should do SOMETHING for those people, after all they are not providing the advertised service…so the customers ought to be able to get out of the plan without being slugged, if they wish. Good luck with that folks. How are Bigpond relocating the residents thats what I'd like to know? If anyone in the “Know” other than BP Management wants to talk to me on air about this….please contact me I think a story on this might be good for Tonight Live. Paisley

  3. Not the end of SL, just the end of the free-wheeling days where corps were willing to throw money and hope to get something approaching a ROI. The world economy is rationalising. This is just a reflection of what's happening in the real world.

  4. Typical non-answer answers. I bet CM thinks they got away with it too.

    BTW, if I was locked into a contract for a service I was no longer receiving I'd contact the TIO (http://www.tio.com.au/). My experience with them has been very positive.

  5. They probably see growth of other new platforms – Facebook, Wii, iPhone and want to hope onto the bandwagon. Though I have a feeling that as SL gets more mainstream over the next 12 months they may want to revisit their decision.

  6. TateruNino says:

    They didn't make a business investment with the intention of getting a financial return, though. They made that fairly clear from the outset.

  7. disabled but can fly in SL says:

    for those hurt by the unmetered useage going, bigpond has new massive “liberty plans”:>
    I wont have to leave second life

  8. for those hurt by the unmetered useage going, bigpond has new massive “liberty plans”:>
    I wont have to leave second life

  9. I got the word that BigPond have agreed to waive contract obligations on an individual person basis to people who joined to use SL. This may have been limited to those on wireless connections only, I don't know for sure. Pond (SL) admin were aware of this although I question just how many Pond customers managed to get told the message. I saw no public mention of it in Pond SL notices. 'Friends of the Pond' group was dissolved before the expected date of final closure, apparently because of griefing problems. Pond sims have been reduced to 5 now and much of the content has also been removed. Why would anyone want to go there now? there is nothing worth going there for. I can't quite understand the need to have vandalised the sims to this degree while still remaining open to the public. It seems pointless even remaining open now the damage is done.

    What exactly did Telstra achieve to be claiming a huge success?? Bulk new internet subscribers?? I find it difficult to understand why something this successful would be removed. Is it normal practice to figure unexpected success then take it away again?

    Reading the above conversation, seems to me that Lowell is being very elusive when queried about the cost of this venture. If it's a profit, wouldn't you proudly throw the numbers on the table and display them for all to see?

    So bottom line is: the experiment revealed Telstra method of constant big brother style watch over the sims may have encouraged griefers rather than protect against them. Unanticipated griefing in the final few weeks forced premature closure of chat groups and made hard work of keeping sims free of issues. Telstra seem hesitant to reveal financial data about the whole experiment.

    Feel free to comment in regards to any of this Mr Lowell

  10. Lowell Cremorne says:

    Hi there – I assume you mean Craig Middleton (the Telstra spokeperson) is being elusive?

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