While Linden Lab's virtual environment, Second Life already has built-in instant-messaging services, and a gateway system that allows instant-messages to be passed out by email and to be replied to -- it's certainly not convenient to exchange messages with Second Life users unless you're already logged in -- and running the viewer requires a whole lot more resources than you might have available on a mobile device or a work or school computer.
Linden Lab has said on numerous occasions that they've been working on this for the last couple of years -- though there seems to have been little progress so far. Now, however, It looks like that's going to change. It appears Linden Lab is actually getting close to either a new client or service to improve instant-messaging.
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Among Linden Lab's recent trademark applications (including the undeniably intriguing "Your world, your Way."), we now see a recent application for SLim (pictured above).
The pending mark is listed as covering:
IC 009. US 021 023 026 036 038. G & S: Instant messaging software; communications software for electronically exchanging voice, data, and graphics accessible via computer, mobile, wireless, and telecommunication networks; computer software for processing images, graphics, audio, video, and text; computer software for video and audio conferencing; file sharing software.
IC 038. US 100 101 104. G & S: Electronic and digital transmission of voice, data, images, signals, and messages; e-mail and instant messaging services; communications by computer terminals; electronic exchange of voice, data, and graphics accessible via computer, mobile, wireless, and telecommunication networks; voice over IP (VoIP) services; video and audio conferencing services conducted via the Internet, telephone, and mobile devices.
"SLim" with "SL" in upper case as an abbreviation for Second Life, and "im" in lower case as an abbreviation for instant messaging.
Considering that there doesn't seem to be any other plausible explanation for the SLim trademark, we're going to go with the safe bet that Linden Lab has a new standalone instant messaging client or a gateway service that can be used by third-parties on the horizon.
Linden executives said they would have a huge announcement coming up before the end of the year that didn't involve the release of simulator code, inter-grid teleportation, a sale or an IPO.
We think that the SLim instant-messaging client/service is what forms the core of that upcoming announcement. That's where the smart money is. We've contact Linden Lab for comment.