Consider this the beginning of ruminations on sl as a date site. Since people want it, and LL clearly wants to provide it, even at the expense of people who have dumped thousands of dollars as customers of SL, we might as well start talking about it.
I think that the goal of Linden Labs is to create a successor to the AOL Chat rooms of the 1990s. That the complete dismissal of simple bug fixes, like say "crotchports", and every lady whose been in world any length of time knows what I mean, shows that the current wave of customers are destined to be orphaned. I'm in a kinking profession, but I didn't know that my avatar was into double penetration with stiletto heels. Now that's out there in sexual tastes.
LL wants people to sell to corporations, and a better wave of people than people who want to be imaginative and play in a new world, is an unimaginative wave of men looking for a hot hook up right now, and the already established porn industry that packages up young women who have no better source of income.
I am not complaining, because I am in the porn business, more or less, and people should find their own bliss. But the population that will want sl as a dating site, a sort of try before you buy myspace or fling.com, is going to be heavily male. It will swamp the delicate ecology here. Whiel there will be some women in that exhuberant moment of sexuality once called "sowing your wild oats," the ratio of men looking for no strings attached sex right now is going to be much larger, and they will demand that they be able to shout out every where and anywhere: "Any hot teenage girls wanna suck my 9" dick near Marsupial Falls tonight?"
But there is another population of people looking for partners, one that is not going to well served by voice chat as it is. I am talking about single moms. And this is a population, while voice chat is nice to have, is not particularly the thing that is important. Instead, what they will want is a messaging system that works, a way to control the flood of offers, a way of managing what they say, of taking things step by step.
What this population will want, is email. You might think that establishing a free email account and using it out world is easy enough. However, many people on slower computers play sl with sl taking up the whole screen. They can't use other programs, and won't be able to for a very long time. Until laptop graphics is routinely up to the challenge, this will be the case.
It would not be that sl would have to run their own email system. Instead, what would be needed is some extensions which would allow people to use the notecard editor, send it to email, a facility that already exists for postcards, and then read from email on the other side. This is beyond the scripting language's capabilities, and would require HTML on a prim to really work as a free service, because Yahoo and others want you to read their ads.
This would limit the amount of overhead on sl's side, since they would not be storing the messages on their servers, it would allow people to manage their email, and read sl email without even having to log in world.
SL e-mail, if the God-Kings are smart, would be the next major feature priority. Because if they are going to sell access to free sex, which is a very profitable business, then they need free sex to sell. And that means not just giving young and old men a way of making sexual advances, crude and otherwise, but a way for women to field offers.