In what I believe may be the start of a trend, the virtual world Blue Mars announced it would stop further development of it’s PC-based software and would shift its focus to mobile devices, specifically developing for Apple’s iOS platform. For those of you not familiar with Blue Mars, it’s a sandbox world, similar to Second Life in that it is left open for users to create whatever places and objects they can imagine. The move to mobile platforms reflects several realities facing virtual worlds. If you don’t believe that mobile devices like iPhone and Android will replace desktop PCs within the next 3-4 years, you should check out the Motorola Atrix, announced at this years CES. In any event, it’s probably a smart move for the developers of Blue Mars to go mobile because that is increasingly where people are spending their time. As far as I’ve been able to tell, the graphics engines for most virtual worlds do not appear to be increasing in sophistication, so it seems that people aren’t necessarily focused on that aspect of the world, but rather on the communities that are present there. Just as in other non-3-D social networks, it’s the people that make the difference. If Blue Mars can increase its user base by going where the people are, it may just find that it provides the boost they need to accelerate growth.