I just turned 44, which kind of sucks, but as they say, it’s better than the alternative. I think I’ve been old for a long long time, but now I have to admit it. Virtual World have been growing up, too, and my feelings are somewhat the same. Despite reports by Gartner and Forrester, articles in the Wall Street Journal, Business Week and Information Week, and even popular press like the LA Times, I still hadn’t quite caught on to the idea that we now have an industry. But when I saw Christian Renaud’s blog, I had to admit that “Virtual Worlds” is an industry category, and I’m in it. None of these articles are about the technology (what I do), but about what people do with it and how businesses make money with it. I guess it’s better than the alternative. OK, it’s pretty cool, but kind of weird. This stuff isn’t household technology or household names yet. The future is here. It’s just not evenly distributed yet. It’s an interesting life-span inflection point.
Here is some new-media content about Information Week’s Mitch Wagner and Gartner’s Steve Prentice vs SL’s CFO and even Prokofy Neva. It is mostly about Second Life’s power and problems and how that relates to others. Croquet’s Qwaq Forums comes up a lot.
You can probably get out of this whatever you’re predisposed to. (I took away that Geoffrey Moore is right.)
Do follow the link from there to the video. It’s long and not densely packed, but it is a good tour of the non-technical state of virtual worlds — i.e., the things that matter to most of the world. Ten years from now, this is going to be how archaeologists remember today.
Much of the press surrounding the first two days of the FCC’s 700 MHz auction has been like this Information Week story. I confess to being both amazed at the shallowness of the reporting and amused at its gloom and doom tone. To hear the press tell it, it’s time to be very bearish on this auction.
A look at historical precedent is salutory. The FCC’s Integrated Spectrum Auction System files for Auction 66 and Auction 73 are the places to start.
At the end of round four in Auction 66 (AWS-1), the high bids for the EAs, CMAs, and REAGs were, respectively, 4.15%, 7.09%, and 12.03% of the final net PWB prices with 47.84% of licenses receiving at least one bid. At the end of round 4 in Auction 73 (700 MHz Band) the high bids for EAs (A and E Blocks), CMAs (B Block), REAGs (C Block), and the nationwide D Block license were, respectively, 31.87%, 43.03%, 39.06%, and 26.99% of reserve price with 83.80% of licenses receiving at least one bid.
Auction 66 netted $13.7 billion. Auction 73 has a reserve price threshold of $10,386,011,520. By any objective criteria Auction 73 is off to a much better start generally than Auction 66 was. The fact that the D block has had only one bid in the first four rounds isn’t terribly unusual; several licenses which eventually went in Auction 66 for very substantial sums had very little early-round action. It’s important to point out that auctions with relatively high reserve prices tend to exhibit slow convergence bidding on reserve price and provide significant incentive to try to obtain the license for as little over reserve price as possible. When this tendency is coupled with the FCC’s bidding increment rules, it is rather obvious that the auction is going to take some serious time and that it’s rather impressive how close to reserve price the bidding is at so early a stage.
Auction 66 ran 161 rounds. I expect Auction 73 to run at least 100 rounds, and probably significantly longer. It is much too early to announce that the results of Auction 73 are disappointing… unless you appear to know as little about how FCC spectrum auctions actually work as much of the press does.