last year, Linden Lab saw Second Life lose an average of 8 private sims per day. with a full sim meaning $295 of monthly revenue, that loss is substantial
any loss, or negative growth, is a bad thing for most companies, especially in the US where even Apple gets tons of gloom and doom media coverage if their earnings fall short!
last year i looked at those private sim numbers as a measure of Second Life’s health and an indicator of the mainstream’s view of virtual worlds. there will always be a market for high-end stuff even as cheaper stuff becomes available (there is always someone who will buy a Bentley, despite their being zillions of far cheaper cars available)
certainly we have seen a shift making some of the SL private sim loss a wash with some people migrating over to OpenSim options such as InWorldz, Kitely, New World Studio, and even Sim-on-a-Stick (18k downloads in two years)
with every post last year about the SL loss, there were people stating that some of that was from expiring non-profit/ed discounts and that the rate of loss should level out a bit
it looks as if that leveling out is happening in 2013
there is still a net loss but it looks to be under six sims per day as an average for this year. a loss is still bad, but the difference between eight a day and six is 25% in the right direction
personally, i don’t think SL will ever see positive growth again and LL doesn’t seem to care much about that (not in any discernible external ways), but maybe SL will get to an equilibrium at some point where the grid stays a certain size