Increasing the power of SL users to communicate with each other is said to be one primary goal of adding voice to SL.
There are a number of other features that could be added to the SL to increase the program’s usefulness as a communications tool.
Being able to send people email from within the program would increase the program’s usefulness as a communications system.
Being able to do filesharing between users would increase their ability to communicate with each other.
Being able to display HTML pages on an inworld browser would increase SL user’s communicative capabilities.
Many things that would increase the ability of SL users to communicate effectively with each other have nothing to do with enhancing the 3D virtual environment or increasing one’s sense of immersion in the virtual world.
Is Linden Lab really trying to maximize SL’s usefulness as a communciations system, regardless of whether additional capabilities increase one’s enjoyment of or immersion in the SL virtual world, or is LL concerned only with improvements that attempt to improve the virtual world experience, such as 3D spatialized sound?
If LL does not provide SL with a full set of communication abilities that don’t have anything to do with the 3D virtual world, then the absense of such non-virtual world communication tools provides an opportunity for competitors to provide a full featured communcations system that uses a virtual world as one part of a integrated system that includes video chat, email, voice, file sharing, blogs, forums, etc.