I thought for a while that concurrency had stabilised. Indeed, with the announcement of Rod Humble as Linden Lab’s new CEO, it appeared that Second Life user-concurrency had rallied. No such luck, it seems, with an overall decline in Second Life usage from around the end of February.
What you’re looking at here is the median daily user-concurrency, charted by day, for the last 12 months. Some days it is better than others, certainly. You can see how it cycles from zenith to nadir each week.
It doesn’t take much to see that it has been on a generally downwards course. Lean back a little and squint, if you need to.
New signups continue strongly, with roughly 10,000-11,000 per day (yielding 22.8 million user-accounts plus change), but signups don’t matter as much as usage.
Second Life isn’t a matter of technology, though it is underpinned by technology. Second Life doesn’t exist absent actual usage by people. Declines in concurrency are worrying for Second Life’s future, especially long-term declines. That translates back into the economy (and thus to profitability for Linden Lab, and their ability to keep the service open in the long-term), as well as an overall degradation of the user-experience.
Kudos to the Alphaville Herald, who apparently caught this, and published while I was still in the middle of writing this up. You can read more about this from another angle there.